Police chief: 'Officers saw an opportunity to move into the park'

Police chief: 'Officers saw an opportunity to move into the park' »Play Video
Police officers arrests a protester in the Portland encampment Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011, in, Portland, Ore. In a tense escalation of the Occupy Portland protest, police in riot gear Sunday surrounded demonstrators in a downtown park area after hundreds of people defied the mayor's order to leave the park by midnight. By early afternoon, officers had mostly surrounded the camp where the protesters were holding a "general assembly" meeting to discuss their next moves following the eviction order. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Portland Police Bureau Chief Mike Reese spoke live on KATU News just before 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon about the bureau’s moves to clear Chapman Square and Lownsdale Square. Below is a transcript of that interview:

Chief Mike Reese: It went very well. Our officers saw an opportunity to move into the park. Lownsdale was vacated so we set a perimeter around it and kept people out. Then Chapman had 30 or 40 people at one corner so we moved in and took possession of that park, told people that the park was closed and they had to leave. Folks that refused to leave were arrested and we have reclaimed the parks for the park bureau.

KATU Reporter Bob Heye: Describe the decision to go forward to go forward this morning and when that was made and how that was made.

Reese: It was part of our overall strategy that we would take back the parks when we had the opportunity to do it in the most peaceful manner with as little confrontation and use of force as possible.

Heye: What’s your personal feeling having been here last night seeing the crowd then seeing what happened this morning – a little more agitated, a lot more arrests. Are you happy with the way that happened?

Reese: Our officers have performed exceptionally well and we’re still in the process of setting fences up and moving crowds out of the street, but I think it’s gone well so far.

Heye: Do you have any expectation as to how long Portlanders might see a police presence here at the park?

Reese: As I said, we’re going to allow the parks bureau staff to go back into the parks and start that restoration process. I imagine that we’re going to have visible uniform presence for quite a while.

Heye: Compare this to other times that you’ve dealt with people on the streets last night and this morning. Is there any comparison?

Reese:  It was a large crowd last night but it was more of a carnival atmosphere more than anything else. Again our officers were very patient and restrained throughout.