Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 12th, 2011 at 9:31 am
(Photos © J. Maus)
SW Main Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues, which has been closed since the Occupy Portland camps went up last week, remains partially barricaded as of this morning.
Autos and buses cannot get through, but bikes are squeezing by (and are welcomed, as you can see by the signs)…
The issue of whether or not the street should be fully re-opened to all traffic has become a tense one in recent days. Mayor Adams and Portland Police Chief Mike Reese have made it clear to the public they would like to open it back up; but that they’re using “discretion” — and not the letter of the law — in making their decision.
Adams is walking a very fine line between respecting the rights of the people who are protesting, while “keeping the city moving and operating,” he told KOIN TV. Adams is also feeling continued pressure from the media and from some constituents urging him to re-open it.
Occupy Portland does not have the required city permit usually necessary to close a street.
At the General Assembly meeting of Occupy Portland last night, the issue was discussed at length. As of this morning, people have not been able to come to consensus on what should be done. Some feel that the street should be reopened, while others want to keep it closed.
The people occupying the parks on both sides of the street will discuss the issue again at a meeting tonight.
Public opinion on the matter is all over the map. Some feel like the closure of one small block of street isn’t that big of a deal, while others are angry at the closure and feel it’s unfair to allow people to close a street without the required permits.
According to a camper I talked with this morning, a group of people took down the barricades early this morning. Then someone else put them back up. When I went out this morning at around 8:30, the barricades remained and a sign on them read; “We love buses and bikes” and “Bus and bikes are methods of transportation.
It’s clearly a situation that’s changing by the minute.
Making this issue even more complicated is the fact that Lownsdale Square and Chapman Square are full of people camping as part of the protest. SW Main Street bisects the two squares and many people feel that opening it while the camps are still occupied would create a public safety hazard.
A police officer I spoke to last night said they would not feel comfortable fully re-opening the street due to the risk of collisions. To mitigate that risk, it would be necessary to move one of the camps — and that’s a potentially much bigger issue than just the street closure.
A camper told me this morning that the safety concerns are shared by many of Occupy Portland participants. He also said that, “It’s silly that we’re fighting over this when we should be spending this energy on much more important issues.”