PORTLAND, Ore. - While Occupy Portland protesters are dealing with a growing number of mental health and sanitation issues at their camp at two parks downtown, a handful are advocating expanding to another area in the city.
A small number of protesters are pushing to move to Jamison Square in the Pearl District. It's not a group decision and it's only been discussed without any endorsement of the idea.
Right now, demonstrators are dealing with a growing number of mental-health issues that Portland police say have led to an escalating number of calls to police to report fights and other disturbances.
Police said they received a call about every 45 minutes Monday related to issues at the camp.
There is also a sanitation problem, including raw sewage spilling from porta-potties and buckets of human waste.
While there is no leadership to the group, one protester said before expanding they want to improve the organization at the current campsite.
"I think that we have a lot of growth that could happen here. I think there's a lot of infrastructure that we need to still be working on," said Tony Zilka who supports eventual expansion. "Here in the park we're not utilizing the space exactly how we need to be. Once we get the organization here, then we can talk about expanding. But for now I think we just need to talk about organizing the camp."
The group is working to address safety and fire code concerns by this weekend before Portland Mayor Sam Adams returns from Asia. They say Adams has been particularly supportive of their cause and they want to take some of the political pressure off him.
Meanwhile, two mayoral candidates, Eileen Brady and Charlie Hales, said Tuesday the city needs to bring the camping to an end as soon as possible. But mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith said he would remove protesters by force only if the behavior worsens.
"They've made their point, which I believe by the way is a great point, and they've broken the laws that have to do with anti-camping laws and there's consequences that need to be put in place. So, I'm extraordinarily supportive of the cause and it's time for them to move on," said Brady.
"At some point the city has to say it's our community, we're in charge, we're going to set a deadline, give you every courteous opportunity to move on and then we'll have to help you move on," said Hales.
"I think we shouldn't set an artificial timeline based on time. We should set it based on conduct. And if things are getting out of hand criminally, we've got to be willing to use force. But we shouldn't be willing to use force merely for the expression of speech," Smith said.
Another mayoral candidate, Max Brumm, said he supports the occupation and civil disobedience is key in getting the message to politicians to get big money out of politics.
He said protesters should continue “until the statement is made to the U.S. government, peacefully."