Portland is temporarily closing Lownsdale and Chapman Squares to the public, the site where Occupy Portland demonstrators have been camped out for more than a month. At 12:01 a.m. Sunday Nov. 13, all people and property in the squares will be subject to enforcement of local laws, according to Portland Mayor Sam Adams. The parks will be closed for repair and to solve any remaining safety, health and crime problems. When the parks are reopened, they will be available for large speech events by permit only.
Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese held a press conference this morning to address Occupy Portland. Relations between the camp, local business owners and city politicians soured in the last few days, as the camp was plagued with problems including arrests for drugs, alcohol and violence. There have been two drug overdoses in the past week that required immediate resuscitation on site in the camp. Portland police arrested a suspect in the camp suspected of setting off a Molotov cocktail at the World Trade Center. Reported crime incidents, especially assaults, increased in and around the camp over the past five weeks.
Adams discussed the need to weigh the demonstrators' rights to free speech with the associated behaviors that come along with it. "I want to make it clear that this action is not an action against the Occupy Portland movement," Adams said. He complimented Occupy Portland organizers for bringing awareness to local homeless issues and for working peaceably with the city.
"I'm sure that this announcement might come with some disappointment or anger from some Occupy Portland participants," Adams said. He insisted the city of Portland would continue to use methodical, peaceful methods to avoid clashes with the protesters such as what happened in Oakland. Reese declined to talk about the police department's tactical plan.
"We will be prepared to make arrests, my preference is that we won't have to," Adams said.
Emma Hall is web editor for Oregon Business.