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Police on bikes meet protestors on bikes: Smiles, dialogue ensues

Posted by on November 17th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Police officers and supporters of the Occupy protests chat, while police in riot gear arrested protestors inside a bank this afternoon in downtown Portland.
(Photos © J. Maus)


At today’s N17 day of actions downtown Portland, the largest assemblage of bicycle cops I’ve ever seen was called in to help with crowd control.

At one point in the march, there was a major action at the Wells Fargo on SW 5th between Taylor and Salmon. According to an officer I chatted with on the scene there were about 50-60 bike cops lined up, tire-to-tire, along the entire length of the block. Standing in the lane on 5th, they were doing their familiar bike-fence technique where they corral in the crowd by forming a wall with their Trek mountain bikes.

What made this phalanx of bike cops interesting today was that, directly adjacent (up on the curb) from the line of bike cops, was a line of people on bikes there to support the protests. It created a moment where citizens and police officers (who are also citizens of course) stood next to each other holding their bikes.

While people were being arrested inside the bank and protestors looking in the window pounded on the glass as a cop in full riot gear pulled the blinds closed, outside on SW 5th, a much more pleasant scene was taking place. Bike cops and bike riders were chatting with each other face-to-face, discussing the protest and other issues. Amazingly, even smiles broke out.

One thing I don’t understand about Police Chief Reese’s and Mayor Sam Adams’ response to the Occupy actions is the large number of fully-equipped, militaristic, stormtrooper riot cops they are sending out to these assemblies. As I watched protesters chat with bike cops today, I wondered if more human-looking (less army robot) officers might result in a more productive outcome for everyone.

Years ago, at the height of Portland’s Critical Mass movement, activists sat down and negotiated with the police to have them use fewer patrol cars and more bike cops. The police agreed, and if memory serves me correctly, the gesture was appreciated by the Critical Mass participants.

This Occupy stuff isn’t going away any time soon, perhaps it’s time for the Mayor to sit down with the citizens who elected him and discuss a possible change in protocol? It’s time for more dialogue and less intimidation.

UPDATE, 9:51 am 11/18: Look at the two photos below and think about how the protests might have different outcomes if there were more or less of the types of police shown:

(Photo: My friend PJ)

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  • 9watts November 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Great photos. Excellent reporting, Jonathan. And I couldn’t agree more with your suggestion. Menacing gear/armor/weaponry only escalates and creates mistrust of the police when antagonism is not going to be helpful to either side.

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    • sorebore November 17, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      Good photo’s to be sur!! I REALLY like the one with the bicycle cop mackin’ on the ladies! :)

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  • Sergeant Gregory Parker November 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    “Hello. My name is Sergeant Gregory Parker. I know we look scary in our black riot gear, but all we really want to do is talk about this.”

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    • 9watts November 17, 2011 at 4:14 pm

      Nice of you to post. And good to hear.
      But you can perhaps appreciate how the gear gets in the way of, obscures, makes it very difficult to suspect that underlying message.
      I sat across from cops wearing those outfits in Seattle and some were crying. And it wasn’t because of the tear gas. That came later.

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    • sorebore November 17, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      For reals?? Well you have a happy mug in this picture. And a bicycle to boot.

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    • Paycheck2paycheck November 17, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      Sergeant Parker, Thank you for the work you and all of the departments are doing.

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    • Daniel R. Miller November 17, 2011 at 11:42 pm

      Let me ask you this though: what if I confronted you with the exact same suit of armor that you confront me with? You look like a smiling human in this photo, but in your riot suit we can’t even see your face and you look unavoidably like an armored, and armed, robot. But I’d love to hear a longer reflection from your perspective, to counterpoint my personal blog account of my experience Saturday night (reiterated with what i experienced today). If interested, contact me at danreedmiller [at] yahoo.com.

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      • middle of the road guy November 19, 2011 at 4:03 pm

        Daniel,

        consider the other standpoint. What if you were confronted with a screaming mass of people calling you a corporate shill and pushing you?

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  • BURR November 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Complete overkill on the use of police force. Reminds me of the days of Vera Katz and Mark Kroeker. Chief Reese will definitely not get my vote for mayor.

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  • JV November 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    “army robot” gear may be scary-looking, but our police officers need physical protection in their jobs. As you say, they are citizens, too. I don’t begrudge them that protection, though I agree that it would be nice if they didn’t need to wear it.

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    • sorebore November 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm

      I do not know the full situation around the former Marine peacefully standing still, getting shot in the head in Oakland, and I do not want to open a can of worms, but… riot gear is menacing.
      Here is to hoping Portland can hold it together.
      And on the flip side.. in the era of the Panopticon, if your gonna revolt why not flaunt it. No bandana’s on yer mug! IMO.

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    • Erik November 17, 2011 at 6:57 pm

      There was nothing the protester had that required riot gear for protection. You don’t need Kevlar against cardboard signs.

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      • Kristen November 18, 2011 at 9:20 am

        You don’t know what else people are carrying, and neither do the police.

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      • Marc November 18, 2011 at 9:50 am

        Weapons were found being crafted in the Parks during the occupation. I would not want my dad or son on the front lines of a protest without being protected. I expect that they get to come home at the end of the night after serving our community.

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    • Wyatt Baldwin November 18, 2011 at 8:27 am

      What makes you think that kind of protection was necessary in this particular situation? There was no riot taking place, nor was one likely to take place. A human police presence (e.g., the officers on bikes) should be sufficient to handle something like this.

      Sending in militarized cops is going to make people angry and scared (and rightly so in my opinion), raise tensions, and possibly help to escalate the situation to the point where riot gear *might* actually be necessary. Americans aren’t a particularly riotous bunch, though, so I think this concern is overstated.

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    • Paul Johnson November 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      Bicycle cops tend to wear protective gear as well, and are substantially more approachable and less threatening.

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  • J November 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Chief Reese absolutely will get my vote for Mayor. Throughout this whole situation he and PPD have conducted themselves patiently, responsibly and fairly.

    Sorry you don’t like “Stormtrooper Robots” but there’s a dedicated minority of Occupiers bent on causing damage to the city and harming police officers, so IMO it’s nice to have them around, just in case.

    Oh, and Jonathan, Occupy Portland has been way more disruptive of my ride home than leaves in bike lanes.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm

      Thanks J,

      I hear you. I have nothing against the riot outfits… I just wonder if there’s a better balance the PPB could strike. For instance, perhaps they could have more officers/riot uniforms on standby in case they are not needed? This morning on the steel bridge seemed like a big overreaction.

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    • sorebore November 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm

      billy club to head… slip on leaves due to over inflated tires… result the same!! Fractured skull! be careful.

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    • Wyatt Baldwin November 18, 2011 at 8:39 am

      Do you think that minority, which it seems to me is *tiny*, really warrants such an overt display of force?

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      • Paul in the 'couve November 18, 2011 at 8:56 am

        “Do you think that minority, which it seems to me is *tiny*, really warrants such an overt display of force?”

        I won’t pretend to now what each individual thinks about what they want, but the movement as a whole wants attention. They want attention on the news, in the media, on the internet. The display of force is part of getting that attention.

        Proof of that:
        *Occupiers are blocking a bridge in the middle of a major urban area (Steele in PDX, University in SEA and Brooklyn in NYC).
        * Occupiers are illegally blocking access to private businesses in busy urban areas.
        * SOME occupiers state ahead of time that they PLAN to get arrested and they won’t leave until they do get arrested.
        * The people in the occupy crowd that don’t intend to get arrested are there partly to keep the police from easily arresting the dozen or so that do intend to get arrested.
        * When the police order “clear the sidewalk” no one moves.

        There is a reason for everything here. The OP movement doesn’t blockade a bank in Battle Ground or Tigard, the blockade a bank adjacent to Pioneer Square. They blockade that bank at the busiest time of day both for the bank and the traffic outside. They pre announce that they are going to be conducting these activities, nationally on a specific day and the general area if not the exact locations.

        This is all a game. OP has no reason to complain. They are accomplishing what they want to accomplish by provoking a police response. If they want the police to stand down, all they have to do is follow directions when asked to “clear the sidewalk.”

        If this keeps up, yes someone is going to get hurt and quite possibly killed. It isn’t going to end pretty. But don’t blame the city or the cops for that. If you provoke a hornets nest enough times your going to get swarmed.

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        • PedInPDX November 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm

          Paul, it’s clear from your response (and your handle) that you were not and have not been present at the protests. In the vast majority of cases, when the police ask protesters to move onto sidewalks (a funny request, as doing so actually results in the obstruction of sidewalk ROW, which I can only infer is less important to PPB than auto ROW), they do so. With or without baton-prodding and pushing from the police.

          In fact, during yesterday’s march there was a point where the protesters were hemmed in on all four corners of an intersection (SW 4th & Salmon I think?) while a police van made repeated requests for people to “immediately vacate the street.” For almost a full ten minutes, as this request was repeated ad nauseum, guess who the only people in the street were? The police themselves, massed by the dozens and doing all of jack squat, save for wasting our tax dollars. (I say our because Vanc PD was shipped in.)

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  • jeff November 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    the gear is necessary to protect them in doing their duties. why don’t you do a story on why some protestors wear masks or bandannas over their face to intimidate and/or hide their identities?

    as for increased dialogue, sure, great idea, as long as Occupy folks are ready to start obeying the law and find what it is they exactly want to talk about. I have yet to hear a coherent message that our city leaders can address/fix/change while protecting the rights of everyone else.

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    • Oliver November 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm

      I don’t see how the city leaders can address the nearly unfathomable hundreds of thousands of thousands of millions of taxpayer (and effectively tax-free) dollars that have been given to the financial system by its plants in government.

      The problem with revolutions, like wars, is that those with little responsibility invariably suffer more than those responsible. It is the nature of things.

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      • Kevin November 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm

        Yah it was terribly embarrassing when all those banks paid the money back with interest too.

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    • Mike Fish November 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm

      Sometimes it’s important to break the letter of the law. I’m sure you could think of some times when that has been appropriate. It’s fine if you don’t think this is one of those times, but simply saying it’s wrong because it’s against the law isn’t a good argument.

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    • PedInPDX November 18, 2011 at 12:08 pm

      I’m inclined to agree with you, Jeff, about masks and bandanas, but from my conversations with a good portion of protesters who wear partial face coverings, many do it not to intimidate, but because it’s cold in November here.

      It is also worth noting that the riot police frequently wear black, balaclava-style coverings.

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  • Paul in the 'couve November 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    “One thing I don’t understand about Police Chief Reese’s and Mayor Sam Adams’ response to the Occupy actions is the large number of fully-equipped, militaristic, stormtrooper riot cops they are sending out to these assemblies. As I watched protesters chat with bike cops today, I wondered if more human-looking (less army robot) officers might result in a more productive outcome for everyone.”

    In a crowd of protestors, some of whom are masked, many of whom are deliberately provoking police response and deliberately breaking the law it would be insane to have too few police or to not have protective equipment. It would only take a dozen or so anarchists or a couple of crazies with guns to turn that situation into a disaster for the police.

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    • Wyatt Baldwin November 18, 2011 at 8:54 am

      Historically, though, what we’ve seen in these kinds of situations is excessive force used by the police.

      One might argue that the imposing presence of riot cops when there isn’t a riot imminent is itself an act of violence and intimidation. It makes the environment tense and hostile and scares some people away from exercising their rights in the streets. To me that is far more of a concern than a few “anarchists” possibly breaking some windows.

      Also, the word you’re looking for isn’t “anarchist”. People who instigate violence are most likely just plain old hooligans rather than actual anarchists.

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      • Paul Johnson November 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm

        You can always tell who’s looking for a riot based on who shows up dressed for a riot.

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    • PedInPDX November 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

      Yes. And this is the case at all times of the day, in all parts of the city, everyday and everywhere. In schools, churches, supermarkets, neighborhoods, concerts and restaurants.

      By your logic, we should have massive numbers of riot police deployed at all times everywhere around the city to practice constant vigilance against the chance, however remote, of anarchists or crazies with guns attacking.

      Sounds like a police state to me.

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  • Kevin November 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I’ll grant you that I haven’t been following too closely, but people I see getting beaten and pepper sprayed have been the ones with neither uniforms nor protective gear.

    Hey, there’s a double whammy of touchy subjects, should protesters wear helmets? I think yes.

    The risk of head injury when exposing yourself to police in riot gear has got to be massive.

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  • wsbob November 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    “…One thing I don’t understand about Police Chief Reese’s and Mayor Sam Adams’ response to the Occupy actions is the large number of fully-equipped, militaristic, stormtrooper riot cops they are sending out to these assemblies. …” maus/bikeportland

    What do Adams and Reece say about their reasons for having these guys brought out to the demonstration?

    You’re not telling us what you’ve done to try and understand their reasoning, so there’s no way we can know whether or not you’ve attempted to call either of the two or their office staff about this so they might offer you answers you could use to try understand their decisions.

    Hearing what those people have to say about the situation might help you to understand. Might not persuade you to a different opinion on whether the amount of law enforcement called out was required, but you ought to go to talk to them before implying to people reading here, that the size of the force called out wasn’t needed.

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    • 9watts November 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      “before implying to people reading here, that the size of the force called out wasn’t needed.”

      Needed? That would depend on who you asked, no? There is no ‘objective’ need for any of this, really. It is all a judgment call.
      And that can be a good thing. Let’s have more bike cops and fewer police turtles with big clubs.

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      • wsbob November 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm

        “…Needed? That would depend on who you asked, no? …”9watts

        Coming to at least a general idea of the type of sources Adams and Reece consulted as part of making their decisions is one of the things people should be thinking about. This is something maus might find out, if he asks them.

        “police turtles with clubs”. That’s kind of funny. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is more funny. Teenagers don’t get to be cops though. So what might be one reason Reece has so many storm-trooper turtle’s out? My guess is so that so that they wouldn’t have to do anything.

        If they were to not show up at all, or show up in wimpy numbers that suggested they could be easily overwhelmed, that could have been big trouble.

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        • Mike Fish November 17, 2011 at 9:56 pm

          “If they were to not show up at all, or show up in wimpy numbers that suggested they could be easily overwhelmed, that could have been big trouble.”

          OMG. There are plenty of places throughout the city that don’t have any sort of regular police protection. And yet, they’re not being overrun by protesters. Maybe it’s because the protesters just want to peacefully protest! Why would they want to attack or “overwhelm” the police???? Ridiculous.

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        • 9watts November 17, 2011 at 10:04 pm

          “My guess is so that so that they wouldn’t have to do anything.”
          You may be right, but not enough of a reason by a mile to spend our tax money on 8,400 hours of overtime in one weekend. Since I don’t think we even have that money, it probably will be borrowed from a bank and have to be paid back with interest. See how this system is screwed up?! The Banks always win – which is why it is so important to stand up, and why the police’s role in locking down the protests to me at least is at odds with everyone’s best interest, or at least the 99% to which they belong.

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          • 9watts November 17, 2011 at 10:21 pm

            Retired Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis arrested at Occupy Wall Street in NY/Zuccotti Park – see what I mean? He gets it.
            http://tinyurl.com/cxxpdlp
            “as soon as I’m let out of jail, I’ll be right back here, and you’ll have to arrest me again.”

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            • 9watts November 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm

              Edit: arrested at the NY Stock Exchange, not Zuccotti Park.

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  • Nick V November 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    If I was a police officer, I would wear that riot gear 24/7. I can’t think of a more stressful job. I also believe that they’ve shown tremendous restraint given the way that some of those, ahem, “activists” have been behaving.

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  • BillyJoeBillyClub November 17, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    The riot gear does two things:

    1) Intimidates people
    2) Gives the police anonymity

    #1 causes people to act aggressively towards the police, since it dehumanizes the individual police officers.

    #2 causes the police officers to act more aggressively towards protesters, since each officer’s identity is obscured by the gear. They have less fear of being caught brutalizing someone, and develop a kind of us-against-them mob mentality with their fellow officers. This mentality is similar to the mentality the “guards” developed in the famous Stanford Prison Experiment.

    Police do not need riot gear to protect themselves from peaceful protesters. Period.

    If people start looting and burning cars then sure, by all means, bust out the jack boots and billy clubs. But until then, there is absolutely no justification for the militarization of the police that is occurring in Portland, other than to intimidate and antagonize the protestors.

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  • PoPo November 17, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Your top photo features one of my favorite friends from my old office, Jonathan! I’m not surprised you caught him smiling and chatting with one of the other citizen cyclists.

    Jonathon, the officers in riot gear are not there to respond to people like you, or most of the protesters at any demonstration. That is one of the reasons why this critique comes so often, I believe–most of the protestors are not there to attack or injure officers, so it is hard for them to understand the need for heavily armored officers.

    There is a small minority, however, who mingle among the peaceful protestors, who are very much there to confront and fight with police. And throw things at them like rocks or knives (as happened a few days ago in Portland) It is difficult to guess when and where this minority might decide to act. Thus it is important to have the more armored officers available.

    Indeed the plan is often to attempt to have the riot officers staged a ways from the main protest, to be called when needed. However if the police have intelligence or other evidence that makes them believe there is a high chance of trouble with the troublemakers, they may be much closer.

    As a bicycle-mounted officer at some of these protests, on more than one occasion I was happy to have the more heavily equipped officers close by when an altercation unexpectedly broke out.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 17, 2011 at 8:42 pm

      Hey PoPo,

      Nice to hear from you. Thanks for chiming in. I hear what you are saying… But the fact remains that Chief Reese and Mayor Adams have deployed waaaay too many riot-uniform officers at these protests. Even if there are some fringe/violent aspects among the mass of protestors, it certainly does not warrant hundreds of riot officers. We’ll see if they’ve learned from today’s mistakes. Hopefully with all the negative PR they are getting tonight, we’ll see a different type of police presence at future protests.

      What’s clear from today is that it’s unsustainable from a resource perspective for the PPB to have this many officers on hand. They are getting tired and thus more prone to bad decisions. I feel bad for some of them… they’re just taking orders.

      Again, I get that cops want to be safe and that if things escalate they’ll be prepared. But so far, there’s absolutely no justification for that type of force/presence to be shown.

      Thanks again for commenting. I was chatting with Asst. Chief O’Dea at the big eviction protest on Sunday morning and I told him how much I missed having you around and how much we need guys like you working the streets right now.

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      • wsbob November 18, 2011 at 1:11 am

        “…But the fact remains that Chief Reese and Mayor Adams have deployed waaaay too many riot-uniform officers at these protests. …” Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

        Okay maus. what “…facts…”? Are you now working for the PPD, thus privvy to the information Reece would have had that brought him to make the decision he made?

        “…Hopefully with all the negative PR they are getting tonight…” maus/bikeportland

        What’s that even mean? You’re thinking the general public is rejecting the PD’s preparedness, and is going to overwhelmingly demand that the mayor and the chief scale back the enforcement detail? The demonstrators may not like the riot cop presence, especially after the demonstrators themselves screwed up at the banks yesterday. To the general public, the mayor and the PD’s intervention in OP’s negative activities of the day has most likely been very positive PR.

        “…We’ll see if they’ve learned from today’s mistakes. …” maus/bikeportland

        Oh right. With remarks like that, you’ll be turning them into ‘laugh riot cops’. Maybe the mayor and the police chief should have been coming to you for advice all along. ‘Hey Jonathan…you got a few minutes to help us decide how many riot cops we should bring on line? Decisions like these just seem so easy for an ‘in the know’ guy like you.’ .

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    • sorebore November 17, 2011 at 9:41 pm

      With all this nice fuzzy wuzzy chit chat ,( which is awesome ),I just gotta ask…Are there any documented examples of undercover PPB employees posing as OWS folk, such as we have seen posted in videos recently in Oakland? I direct this at anyone, not necessarily Popo. just curious. peace.

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      • Alan 1.0 November 17, 2011 at 10:06 pm

        PPB plainclothes in Occupy Portland:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoUa26YwKGs

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      • Jonah November 18, 2011 at 1:11 am

        On Sunday there were a couple folks that were very likely provocateurs (Clearly had non-violence training, acted calm and collected and randomly shouted Christian fundamentalist rhetoric to fire up protestors, observed meetings, had pre-planned signals to each other, would not respond to if they were a Police officer). We can’t know for sure if it was PPB, but there are certainly trained infiltrators within the movement who are attempting to deliberately cause disruptions. I’m not sure of any videos but the Livestream team got them on tape on multiple occasions.

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        • sorebore November 18, 2011 at 8:20 am

          Thanks for the link. The texture of this situation is so complex. It makes it very difficult to trust our law enforcement officer’s when they play to this angle. To quote a notoriously famous 60′s icon… “sneaky,sneaky,sneaky.” Why do we think they perform these types of actions? Are they there to trip people up, or are they watching certain folks, or both?

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    • 9watts November 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm

      PoPo,

      What about the escalation potential of bringing so much weaponry to the party? No one else has weapons, so called. A pocket knife? Please. We are not the enemy. We are all citizens, even the kids with the bandanas and the pocket knife. One day we/they will pay the taxes that pay your salaries. How useful will it be (for anyone) if our/their most vivid experience of the Portland police is having been clubbed or gassed? Why not rise above this, take the high ground?

      What are the long sticks for but to hurt someone, a citizen of this town, someone I thought our police were supposed to protect. If the punks are as you say, hoping to pick a fight, what a way to play into their hand by showing up armed to the teeth?

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      • Kristen November 18, 2011 at 9:28 am

        Again– you don’t know what other people are carrying!

        Unless you know every single person at the protests intimately, you wouldn’t know if someone is carrying a gun (legally or not), a knife, a stun gun, bear spray, etc etc etc– all weapons, all that could be directed at the police.

        So they have to wear the all the gear needed for those few people who are carrying anything like the above, who might use it against anyone. I’m sure the police would like to not wear all that gear although in the cold and rain I suppose they’re a bit warmer/dryer than the rest of us.

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        • 9watts November 18, 2011 at 10:36 am

          “you don’t know what other people are carrying!”
          Kristen,
          of course I don’t know what people are carrying, but the logic you’re invoking doesn’t make any sense. Second guessing everyone’s motives and the contents of their pockets, and planning for armageddon gets us nowhere. This is our city, our police. We are not the enemy. We have much more pressing needs in this town.
          I’ve been to peaceful protests where the city (a different city) had ordered up what looked like tanks with rubber tires. Perched on these were police turtles with rifles. I have no doubt that they had their rationale for why people with signs needed to be met with such overwhelming force, but it cast a pall over the otherwise colorful and diverse protest–and no good came of it. Orchestrating what amounts to a military occupation of a downtown is not without repercussions (financial, psychological, civic).
          Our police are much less prone to unnecessary violence against protesters than we’ve seen in other cities, but that is no reason to excuse needless weaponization of what is/could be/and almost certainly would be without the police present a completely peaceful affair.

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          • davemess November 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm

            I have to say you have a VERY idealistic and utopian view of Portland and the World.
            I”m guessing you don’t lock your front door when you go out?

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            • 9watts November 18, 2011 at 12:49 pm

              my view of Portland is not dystopian, that is for sure.

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    • Mike Fish November 17, 2011 at 9:58 pm

      Popo – since police are always potential targets when on duty, why don’t they always wear riot gear??

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    • t.a. barnhart November 17, 2011 at 10:21 pm

      Occupy has made non-violence a priority in these events. yet Chief Reece’s response has been to assume there will be a great deal of violence & he was spent over $1,000,000 over-reacting & leading directly to any escalation. today’s protest was peaceful & orderly – except for the cops.

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      • wsbob November 18, 2011 at 12:24 am

        “…Chief Reece’s response has been to assume there will be a great deal of violence…” t.a. barnhart

        Rather than ‘assume’, Reece and other city leaders had to anticipate and prepare for various possible eventualities that might arise with OP led demonstrations in the city.

        Are you, maus or any other people here that are reflexively dismissing the decision to mount the enforcement presence city hall approved, privvy to all information that factored into their deciding to take that course of action? Most likely not.

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  • Enougnh With The Excuses November 17, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    @Popo: The purpose of the riot gear is to intimidate the peaceful protesters, not protect anyone from some phantom mob of violent protesters who never seem to make an appearance.

    Of course there is going to be the occasional lone idiot who tries to start something with the police, this happens every day even when people aren’t protesting. The police (ALL police) are trained to handle these types of people in the course of their normal daily duties.

    It does not take an army of police clad in military-grade armor, equipped with tear gas and billy clubs, and marching around in military formation like the goddamned Third Reich in order to restrain and arrest a lone dumbass or two. Any of the normal beat or bike cops could handle this in their normal street uniforms, especially considering the number of them (50+ bike cops?? SERIOUSLY???) currently occupying downtown. There are more cops occupying downtown than there are occupiers occupying it for crying out loud!

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    • JV November 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm

      Seems early to have already bailed with Godwin’s law, but hey, if that’s all you’ve got in terms of argument…..
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

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      • vj November 17, 2011 at 8:24 pm

        It’s not Godwin’s law when it’s true.

        Trained paramilitary units are actually marching around with weapons in the public streets of Portland for the purpose of intimidating the law-abiding protesters into abandoning their right to protest. If that isn’t reminiscent of totalitarianism, I don’t know what is.

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        • Paul in the 'couve November 17, 2011 at 8:40 pm

          There is not “right to protest” There is a right to freedom of assembly, the right to free speech and the right to a free press and the right to “petition a grievance.” There is no right to break the law in order to accomplish those things. If the law restricts any of those freedoms you have the right to challenge that in court.

          When the protestors are blocking access to a business, even if they are doing it peacefully, they are not “law abiding citizens.”

          Finally, they WANT the police to be there and they actually WANT the police in riot gear. That’s why they are telling everyone “hey, we’re going to go to this bank on this day and peacefully disobey the law.” That’s what gets on the news.

          They could walk up and down the side walk all day without blocking traffic in the street and without blocking access to businesses and the cops wouldn’t come out in riot gear and the TV news crews wouldn’t stay more than 10 minutes either.

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          • vj November 17, 2011 at 8:53 pm

            Hahahah! If this isn’t a clear case of the exercise of freedom of assembly, and a petition for redress of grievances, then please enlighten us, oh wise one, as to what is?

            By your logic, the African-American civil rights marchers of the 60s would all be considered dirty, rotten, go-for-nothin’ law-breakers out to stir up trouble (which is, in fact, exactly what many people back then thought…)

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            • Paul in the 'couve November 17, 2011 at 9:07 pm

              I didn’t say they shouldn’t protest or even that they shouldn’t be confrontational and block trafic or block businesses.

              I just stated factually that their civil rights are not actually being broken by police pushing them back into place. That they are not actually “law obeying citizens” and that the reason they are doing this things is that they believe their cause is so important that they are willing to risk bodily harm and arrest (followed by release within hours and a small fine) in order to get the media to put it on TV so they can make their point.

              Thus, there is no point to complaining about the police being there in force or in riot gear. From the standpoint of the protest that is success.

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              • Mike Fish November 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm

                Protesters don’t want the police there at all, much less in riot gear. That’s just incorrect.

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                • Paul in the 'couve November 17, 2011 at 10:17 pm

                  Maybe they don’t exactly want the police but they want the news cameras and they know the news cameras won’t show up and spend 20 minutes of the evening news covering it unless it looks dramatic and exciting. They break the law to get attention and the know full well that means getting police attention.

                  Not everyone there plans to get arrested, but everyone there knows that there are people in the crowd that are THERE SPECIFICALLY for the PURPOSE of getting arrested and they are doing to stand in the street or block the door until they do get arrested.

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                • sorebore November 18, 2011 at 8:32 am

                  @ Paul.. It seems there are those in the crowd covertly acting, or planning to act with law enforcement’s interests. So perhaps, the motivator for them to desire media coverage is out need not want.

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            • sorebore November 17, 2011 at 9:57 pm

              I watched Kent State unfold over Hamburger Helper while the elders ranted on… “The no good scum”… 30 years on they shed tears for what it was the awful events of the times, all the while forgetting or denying how they acted. I remember “colored only” signs too.

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          • PedInPDX November 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm

            “There is no right to break the law in order to accomplish those things.”

            You’re correct; our right as Americans is for there to be no law on the books to break in the first place. Say it with me now, “Congress shall make no law…”

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    • 9watts November 17, 2011 at 8:24 pm

      “Any of the normal beat or bike cops could handle this in their normal street uniforms”
      EWTE –
      Hear, hear!

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  • Reid Parham November 17, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    The bicycle officers I’ve been around have consistently been *much* friendlier than other officers.

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  • Ted November 17, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I agree Maus! The gestapo type police presence downtown has got to go! These are peaceful protesters that are not rioting. No need for SWAT teams at all.

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  • Andrew November 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    I heard $450,000 was spent just over the weekend on the police operations. Disgusting.

    The riot gear is part of the “display of overwhelming force” that was the favored tactic to remove the large occupations across the US. They also all used the same transparent pretense: “health and safety concerns.”

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  • matti November 17, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    At about 12:30 this afternoon I rode past a dozen or more black-armored police standing at SW 4th and Main. This sent a chill down my spine… they were all tapping in time their batons on their shin armor in unison: clack! clack! clack!

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  • vj November 17, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    How can anyone look at the videos here and think the purpose of this is anything other than intimidation of the citizenry? The police (especially the out-of-town paramilitary riot police that Mayor Sam Adams has had shipped in) are *causing* the problem by trying to play soldier in downtown Portland.

    http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2011/11/17/occupy-portland

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  • captainkarma November 17, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    That cop smilin’ atchu today may be smacking your grandma with a club tommorrow. Remember that!

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  • Mike Fish November 17, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    The city constantly talking about the cost of the protests, even before it was tabulated, seems like a manufactured response. The best way to sour public opinion against the protesters is to blame them for draining the city’s coffers, when really it’s the politicians and police department officials who are choosing to spend the big bucks when it’s not necessary.

    If Occupy Portland hadn’t been evicted from the parks would this have happened? No! If the city had worked with the protesters and let them raise money to provide minimal infrastructure and sanitation services, this would have been lovely and cost-free.

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    • wsbob November 18, 2011 at 12:12 am

      “…If the city had worked with the protesters and let them raise money to provide minimal infrastructure and sanitation services …” Mike Fish

      And how are you suggesting the city somehow prevented protesters…it sounds like you must be referring to OP’s protesters…from raising money to provide minimal infrastructure and sanitation services?

      People donated services, goods and money to OP, yet living conditions in the parks became steadily worse because even with 5 long weeks of occupation in the parks, OP was not able to make the decisions necessary to use those good will offerings to provide adequate minimal infrastructure and sanitation services.

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  • 99% November 17, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Cop takes out female at Occupy Portland Protest
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9Tbge3ToaA

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  • Daniel R. Miller November 18, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Enough people have said it, but just to add my voice too: the sheer number of storm-trooper robo cops at today’s events was sheer overkill, and their tactics (in tandem, I might add, with the bike cops) only created blockages and antagonism that would not otherwise have existed. At one point I and several other “swarmers” were face to face (sigh, again) with a phalanx of robo-cops at 4th and Alder who prevented us from going forward, when, as I stood next to my bike, I was suddenly rammed from behind by the chest/shoulder of a police horse. WTF? Total overkill response to the objective facts of what was going on. And Reese may run for mayor? I wish I could conjure even a laugh.

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  • Jonah November 18, 2011 at 3:03 am

    I think the police today appreciated our creativity in exercising our right to protest in the streets in a way that was within a legal context by being on a bicycle. Many were also grateful and thanked me and others for helping keep the protesters on the sidewalk and keeping protesters under control. I realized that while we initially served the purpose of keeping the protesters less nervous by putting another row of bikes between them and the cops, we also helped create a much more effective barrier than the bike cops could provide. Sure they may have known better techniques or had more implications of violence at their disposal, but our bike line had the respect of the people and they chose to respect our line on grounds other than implied violence. The bike swarm’s escort roles helped keep the atmosphere light, allowed us to be the main ones interacting with the police and prevented a tense confrontation between police and protesters. Few, if any, protesters were willing to shout at the police when we were in the middle of joking and laughing with them. I must say, today could have gone much, much differently if the bike swarm had not been there to keep things as friendly as possible. As mentioned before, the riot police weren’t nearly as friendly (Although we got some friendly waves from them when we rode by any, especially on their vans). The bike swarm should definitely be a consistent presence at all future marches, and I see it getting bigger and spreading to other protests around the country.

    Friday at 6pm there will be a bike swarm meeting at the Red and Black Cafe to discuss everything about the group, including strategies.

    They even stole our “Bike Check” mic check.

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  • Lance P. November 18, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Protecting businesses from harassment is apparently more important than protecting women from rape!

    Chief Mike Reese either believes:
    1) Intimidating a peaceful protest is more important that protecting the citizens of our city or
    2) he made up a horrible crime to cause fear and panic with hopes of turning people against OP.

    Either way, everyone should call the city 503-823-4120 and demand the resignation of Policy Chief Mike Reese! Call Today, call now!

    Call each counsel member and demand to be heard.

    Amanda: 503-823-3008
    Nick: 503-823-3008
    Randy: 503-823-4682
    Dan: 503-823-4151
    Sam: 503-823-4120

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  • JRB November 18, 2011 at 8:55 am

    The cops have only bad choices on how to manage a situation not of their making. I support the protests and I am also dismayed at the number of police present in riot gear, but it is in the nature of law enforcement to be very conservative (not politically) when it comes to matters of their own safety and in dealing with potentially volatile situations. On the one hand, I think their is a fair argument to be made that the large number of police in riot gear actually heightens tension and can be a factor in escalation. OTOH, I understand the sh*t storm that would ensue if the few bad apples at the protests started damaging property etc. because of a minimal police presence.

    My office overlooks Pioneer Square and I literally had a bird’s eye view of the confrontation between police and protestors yesterday around 4:30. I didn’t see any cops trying to stop people from protesting. I did see and hear the cops trying over and over again to get the handful of people who were blocking the streets to move so the MAX, buses and other vehicles could pass down both 6th and Yamhill.

    Only after being ignored for at least 20 minutes, was an order given and about twenty cops in riot gear rushed the people blocking 6th, who scattered back up on to the sidewalk and were not pursued. The cops left not long after that, the protest continued and the streets remained open. I have to say that I thought the situation was fairly well managed from the police side. Could the cops have done as well without riot gear? Quite possibly, but I can’t criticize them too much for being unwilling to take risks.

    Comparing the cops to stormtroopers and making ridiculous references to jackboots and the like are out of line. Before anyone is tempted to use such verbiage perhaps they should stop and contemplate the situation in Syria right now where over 3,500 protestors have been killed by security forces since March.

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    • Lance P. November 18, 2011 at 9:06 am

      Portland Police only murder homeless people (Aaron M. Campbell, James Chasse, …) or minorities (too many to even start…).

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      • JRB November 18, 2011 at 9:25 am

        Your analogy invalid. Yes, individual Portland police officers have been guilty of using excessive force. Yes, we have a problem in this city and in this country overall with a lack of meaningful civilian oversight and police accountability.

        I do not see, however, evidence of a concerted campaign of repression by the Portland police against the occupy movement nor do I see a culture in the Portland police that condones the use of excessive force. By implying the that a member of the occupy movement in Portland faces the same risk from the Portland police that a democracy activist does from the Syrian security forces or those of any other equally repressive regime, you disrespect the courageous individuals putting their lives on the line everyday.

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    • JRB November 18, 2011 at 9:15 am

      I should have also added my thanks to the members of the bike swarm. Their continued efforts really seem to be making a difference in lowering tensions and preventing conflict.

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  • Joe November 18, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Awesome photos, yes bikes bring happiness

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  • Jonathan Gordon November 18, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I wish all bike cops were friendly. Here’s a video uploaded on Thursday that appears to show a Portland police officer take out a protester with his bike:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9Tbge3ToaA

    I’m not sure what the backstory is but I’m having trouble imagining any scenario where this amount of force is appropriate.

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    • Alan 1.0 November 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm

      Did she assault a cop? Cause property damage, perhaps to the car parked there? I’m pretty sure police are allowed to use reasonable force to stop a felony suspect from fleeing, and tripping her legs seems reasonable to me (if she had, in fact, committed such a crime). I can’t tell from the videos I have seen.

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  • ethan November 18, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I was very happy to have participated in the bike swarm, as it was an interesting take on what to me sometimes feels like a tired narrative between marchers and riot cops. Being on a bike gives one an exhilerating mobility, as one is “allowed” to be on the street, and also “allowed” to be on the sidewalk (if walking the bike), thereby being able to more fluidly navigate between “protest” activity and general riding/warm support. I guess this is why I was so invigorated by Critical Mass oh so many years ago and still enjoy the occasional Midnight Ride… But I digress. My real question, one which this seems like an apt forum to bring up… is what are the actual laws governing these situations? Are pedestrians *never* allowed in the street? When, technically, does a person on a bike become a “pedestrian”? I got nervous a few times when we were stopped by rows of cops and had to walk my bike in the street that I was suddenly a “pedestrian.”

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  • Dave Cary November 18, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    “99%” This figure is touted as the percentage of supporters backing the protesters. That is wrong; it is the percentage of people screwed by the crooked bankers and stock manipulators. There are not anywhere near 99% of these people supporting the methods of the downtown mobs. Their behavior has cut that support to very low numbers. They claim their rights to free speech and assembly, but that only applies to when they are not infringing on the equal rights of others, which in fact they are.

    Peaceful protesters don’t scream and yell at everyone and cover their faces with bandannas. And peaceful protesters are only peaceful as long as they are getting exactly what they are demanding (like the “right” to enter a lawful business and disrupt it in any fashion they feel like). As soon as someone pushes back they no longer are peaceful. How many of you bleeding hearts would be willing to back up the bike cops in your street clothes when they are trying to balance the needs of the public going to work on the streets with the intent of a mob trying to prevent it from happening? These people are not just joining hands and singing “We Will Overcome!”

    The TV has a hand in inflaming this too. One shot of a person scuffling over control of a bicycle was shown a dozen times in a 10-minute period. They thrive on violence and encourage it and we watch it and react to it.

    At some point this protest is going to have to morph into a political force. Where are the leaders who recognize this and are willing to lead it in that direction? The movement has our attention but it is losing our support.

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    • Paul in the 'couve November 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      Absolutely.

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    • Alan 1.0 November 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      “How many of you bleeding hearts would be willing to back up the bike cops…” — Dave Carey

      Ignoring your ad hominem slur (if it even applies to me, or anyone else) and sidestepping what is certainly a “yes” for me and likely for many other BP followers, there are documented cases of Occupy Portland followers handing over the World Trade building fire bomber to police and restraining violent individuals during the protests prior to the Chapman/Lonsdale eviction. There are several other factually challenged aspersions in your statement. Yet, I agree with you that Occupy needs to step up its political game with savvy leadership and tangible proposals.

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  • esther c November 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    While the Portland police response is not perfect and I’m sure there is plenty to criticize. I almost got taken down by a bike cop wedging his bike in trying to block the street yesterday. But compared to other cities it is nothing like the violence other protesters have faced.

    I wonder if other cities will study the techniques and maybe implement them.

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    • wsbob November 19, 2011 at 11:14 am

      “…I wonder if other cities will study the techniques and maybe implement them.” esther c

      My impression is that people concerned about situations their cities are faced with and are seeking ways to resolve, definitely share techniques and other information, especially in the world of instant communication and high speed travel.

      This sharing and mutual studying of each other’s experiences, successes and failures has been written about, in the news, books, articles. Haven’t looked, but some of that will most likely come up in a web search.

      Just watched the tv news for 5-10 minutes yesterday. Relating to the vid footage of the pepper spraying incidents, the station crew was able to closely look at their footage and determine that one particular officer deployed his pepper spray twice in a short period of time. For tv viewers, they pointed this out by using the technique of somewhat darkening the overall picture scene, except for a circle over the subject of interest. So, very likely, that particular officer will be having inquiries made of him.

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  • Paul Johnson November 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I remember when the bike cops started riding with Critical Mass. Interestingly, they were, for the most part, open to prompting from other riders when the police led the front, and were quick to peel off and block for the mass, which I think made it easier for police to figure out where things were headed, and kept massers from having to block for themselves.

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    • BURR November 20, 2011 at 11:41 am

      I also recall when the bike cops started riding with Critical Mass, and I remember unpleasant bike cops forcing large numbers of cyclists to stay in the bike lanes and preventing corking of intersections.

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  • DT November 20, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    “While people were being arrested inside the bank and protestors looking in the window pounded on the glass as a cop in full riot gear pulled the blinds closed…”
    This is very ominous. Since when in a democracy do the police have the privilege of hiding their deeds from public view? The answer is they do not. So either we have forsaken the Constitution or this cop did a very bad thing. I’m afraid the answer is the former. 2000 was a coup d’etat and 9/11 and its fascist spawn PATRIOT ACT turned the USA into a police state. It’s time to put the police back in their proper place–as servants of the public, not mercenaries of the 1%. Not all cops are all bad all the time, but they are all part of a corrupted system and deserve to be looked on with suspicion–which is how they view badgeless citizens, anyway. Cops smile only when they know they have the upper hand.

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    • wsbob November 21, 2011 at 1:30 am

      “While people were being arrested inside the bank and protestors looking in the window pounded on the glass as a cop in full riot gear pulled the blinds closed,…” maus/bikeportland

      “…Since when in a democracy do the police have the privilege of hiding their deeds from public view?…” DT

      Some of the public, such as the bank’s employees, were most likely inside the bank along with their unwelcome, uninvited guests, the people demonstrating that specifically chose to come into the bank, make a big scene and be arrested.

      So those bank employees…members of the public…probably had to witness the police handcuffing and arresting OP’s ‘peaceful’ demonstrators that invaded the bank, while more of OP’s ‘peaceful’ demonstrators, according to bikeportand’s Publsher-Editor Jonathan Maus to this story…were outside pounding on the banks’s windows.

      I’m thinking there’s a very good chance the reason the cops pulled the blinds, is so that members of the public that were working in the bank that day…bank employees as well as cops, and maybe even some customers that may have gotten trapped in the melee…were sheltered somewhat from the harassing conduct of some of OP’s rowdy demonstrators outside the bank, pounding on its windows.

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  • roger noehren November 23, 2011 at 11:46 am

    It was no doubt noticed that the crowds dispersed (on Sunday 11/13 & Thursday 11/17) immediately after the robocops left the scene. Perhaps it became clear that their presence escalated the situation, was ineffectual and very costly: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/11/portland_police_say_overtime_c.html

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  • wsbob November 23, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    “…Perhaps it became clear that their presence escalated the situation, was ineffectual and very costly: …” roger noehren

    Or that the presence of the demonstrators was ineffectual and very costly. How much expense will OP decide to cost the city’s residents on the big post Thanksgiving retail day, Black Friday…’Black Friday’ meaning making enough money to make for slow income months the rest of the year?

    Like it or not, to keep from going into the red, downtown merchants depend on people coming into town, enjoying themselves and spending some money having a good time, buying presents for their friends and families. If OP decides to create a big ruckus that requires legions of assorted law enforcement people to hit the streets, it’ll be OP who is responsible if people decide to stay home.

    On the other hand, if OP were to send some message to the city and its police department that OP’s presence this Friday will definitely be peaceful, and that OP truly is going to police itself, maybe the armored cops can stay home…or do some shopping themselves…and people will feel comfortable coming downtown to shop, possibly allowing a whole new positive light to shine on OP.

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