Occupy Portland camps shrinking after Police standoff

PORTLAND — One officer was injured and one protester was arrested in a standoff overnight after the deadline passed for the Occupy Portland encampments to close, but that was the only violence to erupt and by morning, many demonstrators appeared to be leaving.

The face-to-face standoff with police peaked when thousands of demonstrators blocked 3rd Street between Main & Madison and the officer was hit by a projectile in the dark of night.

At around 6:30 a.m., officers on loudspeakers warned that everyone must clear out, or there would be arrests. Protesters backed up and returned to the parks and sidewalks. About 20 minutes later, police backed off, too and demonstrators dismantled barricades.

By noon, Lownsdale Park was entirely cleared out and police were preparing to install a fence around it. About 20 protesters remained at Chapman Square and were talking about a possible downtown march.

“Fortunately, things died off after a long night. We feel like we’re in good shape today and people continue to leave the parks,” Sgt. Pete Simpson with the Portland Police Bureau said earlier in the morning.

Police Chief Michael Reese spoke to reporters briefly, after being at the scene all night. He said this was an ongoing police mission and felt it was going well so far.

Mayor Sam Adams spoke to reporters a short time later. He said the city would soon be putting up fences around the parks, as part of the closure process.

“Now it is up to us to figure out the safest way and safest time to do that,” Adams said. “I think that the surprise enforcements that we’ve seen around the country have not been consistent with the values of the people of Portland. They have been dangerous, unnecessarily so, and in the end have been very, very costly because of the number of people injured.”

City dump trucks pulled up to the parks after the sun went up and some protesters started filling them with trash. The mayor said maintenance crews would also be arriving to clean up the parks but he did not give a timeline.

Deadline passes with defiance

A Saturday midnight deadline to evacuate the parks came and went with an atmosphere that at times was more like a party than a protest. At midnight, Occupy Portland supporters counted down the seconds, New Year’s Eve style, as a deadline set by Mayor Sam Adams passed. The two parks have been filled with camping protesters since October 6.

Many tents were removed earlier Saturday but, despite the eviction notice, about a hundred tents and about two hundred protesters remained in the encampment. A large crowd of thousands remained in the area well after midnight.

Portland Police Lt. Robert King told KGW it was possible some people came down to the area anticipating a clash between police and protesters.

“There’s been no violence,” Lt. King told KGW shortly after midnight. “It’s almost like a festive environment…almost like a college football game.” King said the gathering was peaceful and police expected it to remain peaceful. Lt. King said police would continue to communicate that the parks were closed and ask people to leave but he would not specifically answer if or when protesters would be evicted from the encampment.

“The time has come for this portion of Occupy Portland to end,” City Commissioner Nick Fish told KGW minutes before the midnight deadline. “I hope and I pray that there is no violence here tonight.”

One officer injured, man arrested

Shortly before 2 a.m., an officer was injured by a projectile thrown from the crowd, according to police. Minutes later, a man was taken into custody. Cameron Matta, 23, was booked on disorderly conduct, harassment, and interfering with a peace officer. The officer was taken for medical treatment. Officials said the officer was going to be OK.

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