Occupy Portland given deadline to leave downtown parks - KPTV - FOX 12

Occupy Portland given deadline to leave downtown parks

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Portland Mayor Sam Adams has ordered Occupy Portland to clear out of two downtown parks by 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

Closing the camps at Chapman and Lownsdale squares will "put an end to safety, health and crime problems," Adams said, after a one-week span of drug overdoses, a Molotov cocktail incident and a march where a police officer was pushed into a moving TriMet bus.

"Occupy has had considerable time to share its movement's messages," Adams said. "But it has lost control of the camps it has created."

READ: Mayor's statement on Occupy Portland

SLIDESHOW: Occupy Portland given deadline

The parks will be temporarily closed for restoration after they're cleared of all people and property, Adams said. Once those parks reopen, all park laws will be enforced.

Police Chief Mike Reese said the police bureau hopes for "a very peaceful resolution to this."

"We're going to do everything we can to really work with folks in an open and honest dialog to facilitate the restoration of the parks," Reese said.

Reese would not comment on the police bureau's tactical plan to remove anyone who ignores the eviction notice, but city officials said they plan to stay in contact with Occupy Portland organizers up until the deadline in order to help them leave the parks.

"We will be prepared to make arrests, but my preference would be that we didn't have to," Adams said.

A handful of protesters also remain at Terry Schrunk Plaza, a federal park, but Adams said those protesters will have to leave, too.

Doors to Portland's City Hall were locked as a precaution Thursday after the announcement of the deadline, but there was not a major immediate reaction from those at the Occupy Portland camp just a couple blocks away.

"I think most people will be willing to leave when they're ordered too. There will definitely be some people who will participate in civil disobedience," Nathan Heustis of Occupy Portland. 

"We have three days to get everyone on the same page.  Occupy Portland has been and continues to be a non-violent movement. That's one of our core principals," said Heustis.

However, Heustis and other Occupy organizers acknowledges that not all demonstrators are dedicated to the mission of the larger movement.

"It's beginning to become a situation that's clearly out of our hands," he told Fox 12.

Occupy Portland first created its tent city Oct. 6 after a march across downtown.

Pressure to end the camps in Chapman and Lownsdale squares started to mount this week as police reported the increase in crime.

Over the last five weeks, police overtime costs related to the encampment reached $316,000, and city officials have grown more concerned about health and safety issues.

"We have sought to be as supportive as we possibly can, but I cannot wait for someone to die in the camp," said Adams.

Starting Thursday, officers and outreach workers began circulating written notices which detail the Sunday deadline and resources available to the homeless population living at Occupy Portland.

"We're not going to talk about our tactical plan right now," said Police Chief Mike Reese.  "We're still working on it, but again, we're going to be very deliberate and methodical as we move into the parks."

The Chief says officers will communicate their intentions, but city leaders have not revealed specific details regarding how they plan to remove people who don't want to leave.

"I think that the large number of people who are there will leave, but there will be a group of people who want to get into a confrontation," retired Portland police captain C.W. Jensen told Fox 12.

Jensen says he believes police will do everything they can to make it a "benign event," but he says he worries a small group of protesters could put officers' safety at risk.

The Portland Police Association says precautions will be taken to protect officers' physical safety and health, which will include the use of riot gear. 

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