PORTLAND, Ore. – Following warning they were on federal property, Portland police and federal officers moved against protesters camped out in Terry Schrunk Plaza at about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.
They removed nine camping protesters from the plaza, which is located on federal property near City Hall. All but one person who had an outstanding warrant were cited and released. They face federal charges.
One woman who was arrested and released told KATU News she moved her campsite to the plaza due to issues she disagreed with at the main Occupy Portland camping areas.
According to social media posts by Portland Mayor Sam Adams, only people camping at the park were arrested. He posted this statement on a page that allows longer posts than Twitter:
"This morning, at request and at the lead of the US Federal Protective Service, the Portland Police helped remove campers at Shrunk Plaza, which is federal property across the street from Chapman Square," Adams wrote. "The campers who were arrested - an estimated 8 to 10 people - at Shrunk Plaza were detained by federal police and cited under US federal law. Initial reports indicate arrests were completed in a peaceful manner."
Federal authorities had warned protesters that it's illegal to camp in federal parks, just like in city parks. No deadline for them to leave was given and the warning did not appear to motivate anyone to move out.
Tuesday morning, after the campers were arrested, Federal Protective Service spokesman Chris Ortman, issued this statement to the media:
“The Federal Protective Service (FPS) responded in coordination with the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Portland Police Bureau this morning to enforce the prohibition of overnight encampments at Schrunk Plaza in Portland, Oregon, while protecting the safety and security of all involved. After repeatedly asking the campers to leave, FPS arrested ten individuals, who were cited for failure to follow the lawful order of a federal police officer.”
Protesters told KATU News they set up camp in the park because they've run out of space in Lownsdale and Chapman squares. They said more new people are arriving daily to join the movement and their goal is to reach every part of the city by camping in more parks, even if that means risking arrests.
Jurisdiction of Schrunk Plaza is shared by FPS, the City of Portland, and the State of Oregon.
After dawn broke Tuesday, a truck hauling about 10 portable restrooms arrived at the main Occupy Portland location in the park blocks. The toilets were paid for with a contribution from American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) organization.
The AFSCME Executive Board voted last week to contribute $5,000 to Occupy Portland and decided to spend about $1,000 of the fun on the toilets. There was no information released on how the rest of the funds would be used.
"Homelessness isn't a crime," said camper David Robinson. "We're just going to keep expanding, and I can pretty much say that people should expect to see us in all of the parks one day."
Several tents were set up in the plaza. Cameron Whitten was arrested Sunday morning at Jamison Square and said those arrests only inspired more protesters to push the protest into other parks.
"That was my first time ever being arrested, and it was pretty amazing to have so many people saying they loved me when I was entering that cop car. That was beautiful, and I hope that people will be able to feel as secure as I did when I was arrested," he said.
Meanwhile, a group of protesters with the environmental group Portland Rising Tide dressed as zombies marched from the Occupy Portland camp downtown to Bank of America branches Monday afternoon to protest the bank's interest in coal.
Police responded to a Bank of America branch on Morrison and 1st Avenue after someone reported protesters causing a disturbance inside the bank. They arrested 27-year-old Timothy John Swenson for allegedly vandalizing glass in the lobby. Police say a bank employee saw Swenson placing a red substance and pieces of paper on it.
He was taken to the Multnomah County jail accused of second-degree disorderly conduct and second-degree criminal mischief.
For now, the city continues to allow protesters to stay in Chapman and Lownsdale squares. But if anyone tries to move into another city park, they will be arrested.