As the clock winds down to the city's 12:01 am Sunday deadline for Occupy Portland to leave their camp in downtown parks, the two sides offer wildly conflicting scenarios of what will happen at midnight.---
The official Occupy Portland narrative: There will be a potluck with empanadas, followed by people dancing in bunny suits until they sit down or bicycle in circles around the camp.
The Portland Police Bureau prediction: There will be anarchists waiting in a bunker dug in the middle of a park, holding wooden shields and planks with nails hammered in them—seriously—while "people may be in the in trees."
These rival scenarios were released within an hour of each other this afternoon, as City Hall and the Occupiers continue to wage dueling public-relations campaigns.
The goals are simple, even if deciphering the reality isn't.
After holding a three-hour General Assembly strategy session last night, Occupy Portland is aiming to attract as many sympathizers as possible into Chapman and Lownsdale Squares, creating a crowd too large for police to arrest them all.
Police want to discourage those new people—especially anarchists and Black Bloc groups—from showing up.
So what's actually happening? Sources in Occupy Portland tell WW that most of the cops' more incredible claims are probably true, but Occupy leadership is trying to stop them from being carried out.
"There are some people [in camp] who are so mentally and emotionally underdeveloped that they would" dig holes and hide in trees, said Reid Parham, an Occupy Portland media committee member. "The justifications they create for violent confrontations are not appropriate, not productive, and I'm kind of at a loss for how to talk them down."
He said Occupation organizers have begun going tent-to-tent today to remove weapons and dissuade campers from attacking police. About 30 workers from social service groups have also arrived in camp today, trying to assist homeless people in relocating to shelters.
Mike Withey, a member of the finance and safety committees, tells WW that police told him they had recovered stashes of flares from a tent, and they found wooden planks placed beneath park railings with nails facing up.
He also said he had seen planks with nails hammered in them stacked at the chessboards in Lownsdale Plaza.
Occupy Portland officially rebutted the PPB release this afternoon with a reiteration of their peaceful pizza-party plans.
"The Portland Police," the statement reads, "have been engaging for the last several weeks in a campaign to defame and confuse the message of our movement by attributing the actions and statements of individuals to the movement as a whole, and they continue to do so."
Though Occupiers issued fiery calls to "hold the park!" during a General Assembly at a locked-down City Hall on Thursday, the evening planning session emphasized a peaceful sit-in. A request for non-violence received the second-biggest cheer of the night.
What got the biggest cheer? A call for plenty of coffee.