City Locks All Gates to Mount Tabor Park Before Occupation

The City of Portland is preparing for the occupation of Mount Tabor, which is scheduled to start at 5 pm Friday, by closing all roads into the park.

Portland Parks & Recreation regularly closes the gates that give cars access to Mount Tabor Park on Wednesdays for maintenance. But this morning, those gates remained closed—as the parks department steels itself for Camp Cascadia, a camping protest organized by Occupy Portland veterans and water purity activists to fight the closing of the Mount Tabor reservoirs.

"The park roads at Mount Tabor will be closed on Thursday for security reasons," says Mark Ross, spokesman for the parks bureau. He declined to answer when those roads might re-open.

Camp Cascadia organizer Jessie Sponberg says the city's increased security has no logistical effect on the protest. Protesters have rented a port-a-potty, but are planning to keep it off-site—not carry it, Fitzcarraldo-style, up the mountain. 

The camping protest is a culmination of growing antagonism between City Hall—which says it has no choice but to keep building multimillion-dollar underground tanks to replace the open-air city drinking water reservoirs—and water activists, who say that switch is unnecessary, costly and dangerous.

Sponberg wonders why city officials are upping security for a potential protest that has yet to break a single park rule.

"What if we were all there playing hackysack?" Sponberg asks. "What if we didn't care about the water? Nobody would even notice.

"We're not going to play hackysack, though," Sponberg adds.

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