Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 12th, 2011 at 4:35 pm
(Photos © J. Maus)
As we reported this morning, a tense standoff is underway on SW Main Street in downtown Portland. The street bisects the two Occupy Portland camps between SW 3rd and 4th Avenues.
Today, as many news cameras and interested bystanders looked on, people participating in the Occupy Portland protests had a loud, passionate, and often angry debate about whether or not to keep the street open.
Many people (a majority) want the street to be fully re-opened…They think that the issue has drawn too much attention and energy away from the real message of the protests. They also feel that inhibiting cars and buses driven by “the 99%” only turns what should be allies, against their efforts.
“It’s not worth the risk of our entire occupation,” shouted one man.
“If you’ve ever ridden the bus you should be well aware that there are no millionaires on the bus,” shouted another.
Mayor Adams also stiffened his stance on the issue today, saying that he’s been patient but that the time has come to open the street.
However, there’s a significant group of people who want to continue to “occupy” the street. Some are concerned that if they give up the street, it will result in a domino effect of police and City intervention. One man said the street is a “big bargaining chip.” Many others I spoke to said a decision by the General Assembly last night to remain in the street should be honored.
Things got very tense this afternoon when a man pulled up in a large white truck and attempted to drive onto the street. The media swarmed him and began interviewing the man in his car.
The police made a brief appearance at one point but there have been no arrests. Things have calmed down now and the street remains closed.
All eyes will be on the General Assembly meeting tonight at 7:00 pm where this issue will be on the top of the agenda.
UPDATE, 8:30 am on 10/13: Mayor Adams and the police have cleared Main Street. Eight people who refused to move were arrested. Watch a news conference with the mayor from a few hours ago via KGW News and read the official police statement below.
News Release from: Portland Police Bureau
PORTLAND POLICE REOPEN MAIN STREET
Posted: October 13th, 2011 8:24 AM
Today, Thursday, October 13, 2011, at about 6 a.m., Portland Police reopened Main Street in downtown Portland. Main Street has been closed since last Thursday, October 6, 2011, when Occupy Portland concluded their march and arrived at Chapman Square and Lownsdale Park. Every day, police have been attending all General Assemby meetings and talking with event organizers about the need to reopen the street.While many of the Occupy Portland attendees wanted the police to open the street, ultimately, the group could not reach consensus on the issue.
Today, police have removed the barricades and arrested eight people for Disorderly Conduct and/or Interfering with a Peace Officer-both misdemeanors.
Main Street, which is a major traffic corridor for Portland’s residents, commuters and emergency services, is open and traffic is flowing again. Officers have left the area, as those causing the street closure are in custody. Officers will continue to regularly patrol the encampment as part of the effort to provide public safety resources when needed.