July 15th, 2013 3:25 pm | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: Activism, City Hall, Health, Environment

Mount Tabor Occupation Leader: Do Not Bring Children Tonight

tabor5Participants in the Mount Tabor occupation play guitars on Saturday, July 13 - Aaron Mesh

A leader of the reservoir protest on Mount Tabor says occupiers will stay past midnight tonight, and is telling neighborhood water activists not to bring their children—because he expects a confrontation with police.

"No kids tonight," says Jessie Sponberg, a leader of Camp Cascadia. "That's how they got us last time. If you're raising a normal kid who does not need to see police brutality, do not bring them."

Sponberg and other protesters—a blend of Occupy Portland veterans and water purity activists—began protesting on July 12 on the lower slopes of Mount Tabor Park, demanding the city fight federal requirements to cover its open-air drinking water reservoirs.

They promised to hold a "strategic, organized siege of that mountain"—but when police moved in on four-wheelers before sundown Friday, the protesters quickly removed their tents and agreed to leave the park when it closed at midnight. They said they felt compelled to back down because neighborhood children were there.

But after a weekend of leisurely afternoon protests, Sponberg is furious Mayor Charlie Hales hasn't responded to activists. So, as first reported by The Portland Mercury, he says occupiers will commit civil disobedience tonight by remaining in the park after the midnight deadline.

"We've had three days, not a bubble gum wrapper left in those parks," Sponberg tells WW. "We said, 'Can you hear me, Charlie?' Nothing. When there's 50 people going to the Justice Center tonight, maybe that'll get his attention."

Hales' office says the mayor will not call.

"The mayor's doing mayoral stuff," Hales spokesman Dana Haynes says. "He's taking care of the city's business. We understand that the Occupy Tabor movement wants the city to not comply with federal rules. We understand that's what they want. If they choose to protest after the parks are closed, that's their choice."

Haynes says the city will continue to lock the roads into Mount Tabor Park and station Water Bureau security around Reservoir #5. The Water Bureau's reservoir security guards—which were eliminated in city budget cuts this spring—put in 37 hours of overtime this weekend, costing the city $1,298.

"Apparently, Parks discussed this morning that the gates would remained closed through today," Hales spokesman Dana Haynes says, "and we would reassess after tonight."

The protests on Mount Tabor over the weekend were bucolic, despite four Friday arrests. Children banged spoons on pots along the sidewalk, teenagers tossed around a football, and protesters served hot dogs as a boombox played the Shins' "New Slang."

One protester described the relaxed atmosphere to WW: "If it was any more mellow, it'd be a petting zoo."

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