Mount Tabor Occupiers Protest, But Police Stop Overnight Camping

The Mount Tabor revolution will not be a camp-out.

About 200 neighborhood activists and Occupy Portland demonstrators gathered Friday night on the lower slopes of Mount Tabor to launch Camp Cascadia, a protest against closing the city's open-air drinking water reservoirs.

But Mayor Charlie Hales appears to to have prevented any repeat of the protracted Occupy camps that held downtown parks in 2011.

Protesters promised a "strategic, organized siege" of Mount Tabor. But Portland Police Bureau officers moved in before dusk to preempt any notions of overnight camping.

Six police officers lined up on four-wheel-drive vehicles at the north edge of the lawn near Mount Tabor's Reservoir #6 at about 8:30 pm—and protest organizers complied with orders to take down the half-dozen tents they'd erected on the grass.

Camp Cascadia leaders who pledged a militant stand against police said they felt they had no choice but to back down—because of neighborhood children present.

"There was kids here," said protest organizer Jessie Sponberg. "We decided to do a strategic withdrawal on the tents. We don't want to risk our kids."

Shortly after midnight, all protesters left, with the promise to return Saturday afternoon. One man, Troy Anthony Thompson, was arrested for trying to put his tent back up—one of three people the Portland Police Bureau said they arrested at the protest Friday night.

Micaiah Dutt, the camp coordinator, told WW that police officers told protesters that Hales drew the line at overnight camping.

"Charlie does not like tents," Dutt said. "Apparently, he really, really does not like tents."

City officials had previously locked all gates into Mount Tabor Park. Hales has thanked city officials for assuring that two weddings that reserved Mount Tabor Park for Saturday afternoon would get the peaceful atmosphere they paid for.

Portland Parks & Recreation spokesman Mark Ross said the protest was ideal.

"We hoped for the positive expression of the freedom of speech and we got it," Ross said. "When the tents were gone, the police were gone."

As night fell, protesters waved sparklers and played guitars and woodwinds. They promised to return to the lower slope of Mount Tabor today at 5 pm.

"Five to 11 every night," Dutt said. "Reminding the mayor of his corruption."

Camp Cascadia protesters object to the $279 million in ratepayer dollars the Portland Water Bureau has spent on underground drinking water tanks, saying that federally-mandated construction is dangerous and avoidable.

The water bureau has increased its costs this weekend in a response to protests.

Hales made cuts to the water bureau on July 1, laying off reservoir security guards to save the city $1.5 million a year. But city officials say extra water security guards will patrol the Mount Tabor reservoirs this weekend, and will be paid overtime.