Tentative plan allows demonstrators, marathoners to share parks - KPTV - FOX 12

Tentative plan allows demonstrators, marathoners to share parks

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Nolan MacGregor, 21, is accused of spraying graffiti on a Starbucks shop and a Portland police patrol car. Nolan MacGregor, 21, is accused of spraying graffiti on a Starbucks shop and a Portland police patrol car.
Demonstrators move through the streets of Portland during a march Thursday afternoon. Demonstrators move through the streets of Portland during a march Thursday afternoon.
A demonstrator holds up a sign prior to the Occupy Portland march in downtown Portland. A demonstrator holds up a sign prior to the Occupy Portland march in downtown Portland.

Common ground appears to have been reached between demonstrators occupying a downtown park and Portland Marathon officials trying to set up for Sunday's race. However, police and city authorities haven't yet weighed in.

A question and answer session involving the two groups ended Friday afternoon in applause filling Chapman and Lownsdale squares, which is also the finish line for the marathon.

Members of Occupy Portland voted Friday evening to keep a presence in the park during Sunday's race, while others will demonstrate at another location in the city, then return to the area Sunday evening.  The group will decide that location on Saturday. 

Hundreds of the demonstrators camped at Chapman Square overnight and remained there Friday night after Thursday's march through the streets of downtown Portland.

Portland Marathon event director Les Smith says marathon organizers' greatest concern is the safety of the runners, workers, volunteers, fans and even the demonstrators. And Smith hopes the group doesn't disrupt the race.

Marathon participants have given some thought to the Occupy Portland movement.

"It passed my mind. I have other things that are freaking me out, like running for four straight hours," said Joel Barker, a Portland resident who will be running the marathon.  "But I'm cautiously supportive of them. Hopefully they are understanding of how important this event is to me."

"This is the 40th anniversary of the Portland Marathon," said Chris Altree, who will be walking the half-marathon.  "We kind of put dibs on the city to start with and I think they just need to go home.  They've made their point."

Mayor Sam Adams granted the protesters permission to stay at Lownsdale and Chapman squares for one night after the crowd -- estimated by police Thursday to be 4,000 to 5,000 strong -- ended their march there.

Police initially told the demonstrators they must be out of the area by 9 a.m. for fencing to begin for the upcoming marathon, but Occupy Portland organizers spoke at a news conference 15 minutes prior to the deadline and stated their intent not to move.

William Rivas-Rivas, who flew in from San Francisco to run the marathon, said he would not mind if the demonstration disrupted the race.

"Sure the marathon was organized a long time ago, but I'm completely supportive of it," he said.  "And if, for some reason, we couldn't complete it because of the protest, I'm fully supportive of it."

On Friday, Occupy Portland stated it's intent is to avoid interfering with the race.

"We are eager to discuss with Portland Marathon the constructive ways we can help and support their event while we remain in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street," organizers said in a statement.

Police said the mood in the parks is relaxed, and people who are camping are following park rules.

There have been no confrontations between the demonstrators and police, but officers made two arrests in connection with Occupy Portland overnight Thursday after the suspects were seen spray-painting a police patrol car and a Starbucks shop. It was an otherwise quiet Thursday night in downtown Portland.

Occupy Portland's protest, held in conjunction with nationwide Occupy Wall Street gatherings, started Thursday morning at north Waterfront Park. The group marched to Pioneer Courthouse Square and then continued on to the parks.

Poll: What do you think?

Food and water are being donated to those staying in tents and sleeping bags.

"This whole overnight thing is different than everything we've done. Usually, we march and go home. This is going to keep going," says Andrea, an occupier from Beaverton.

The street between the parks, Southwest Main Street, is closed between Third and Fourth avenues.

VIDEOS: Protesters fill Pioneer Square | Demonstrators flood streets | Aerial view of march

SLIDESHOWS: Protest signs | Occupy Portland protesters gather | National demonstrations
No major traffic backups were reported during the march Thursday, but TriMet did temporarily halt some downtown MAX service because of the crowds.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Occupy Wall Street

According to Occupy Portland's website, demonstrators gathered "in solidarity with the ongoing protest in New York City," where protests began 2 1/2 weeks ago.

Hundreds of Portlanders, representing all ages and all backgrounds, filled Waterfront Park before the march to express similar concerns about the country's future.

"I think our society is going backwards very rapidly," said Cary Novotny, a new dad.  "I'm concerned the world my child will grow up in will be a world lacking opportunities, lacking good jobs."

"My biggest concerns are the growing divide between the rich and the poor, the rising costs of education, healthcare costs, the unavailability of healthcare to most Americans," said Nita Guidoux, at the rally with Novotny and their baby daughter.

"I believe that the opportunities that were available to my parents' generation aren't available to my generation, and even less to my child," said Meagan Van Eaton, also a young mom.  "I've never ever been this scared in my life."

Parents of older children worry as well. Edward Lyle, who recently retired, has four adult sons.

"I think they aren't going to have the same kind of resources and same kind of future that I had, in terms of making my dreams all come true," said Lyle.

Meanwhile, Cathy Monster, who's single, held a sign which read: "I have worked a full job since the age of 18. I have no kids, no house, no retirement, no savings account. I struggle paycheck to paycheck."

"It makes me feel terrible," Monster said. She told FOX 12 she's worked hard for the past 20 years.  "I have nothing to show for it."

Despite discontent, the demonstrators say they hope lawmakers nationwide get the message.

"I think we can do this," said Cherie Bolton. "I think we can make our country better again. I'm afraid to look at a future where things don't get better."

Related stories:

Oct. 6, 2011: Occupy protests pick up steam, spread to hundreds of cities
Oct. 5, 2011: Occupy Portland organizers to police: No thanks on permit

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