Occupy Portland protesters defy eviction order in Oregon
City officials around the country continue to skirmish with "occupy" protesters. Portland, Oregon, set Sunday deadline for protesters to vacate but backed down after thousands showed up.
Anti-Wall Street protesters and their supporters flooded a city park area in Portland early Sunday in defiance of an eviction order, and authorities elsewhere stepped up pressure against the demonstrators, arresting nearly two dozen.Skip to next paragraph
Crowds converged on two adjacent downtown Portland parks where protesters decrying economic injustice are camped after city officials set a midnight Saturday deadline to disperse. Hours later, protesters remained though by dawn Sunday the crowd had thinned and obeyed police orders to clear the street.
At one point overnight, the crowd swelled to thousands.
Organizers said they hoped enough people will join them to make it difficult if not impossible for police to carry through on any eviction.
"Occupy the street," one organizer said through a bull horn. "Remain peaceful and aware. We have strength in holding the streets."
Demonstrators had used pallets and old furniture, wood debris and even a bicycle to set up makeshift barricades on either end of a street that runs through the encampment, apparently in an attempt to block traffic. The barricades later were taken down by protesters.
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Mayor Sam Adams had ordered the camp shut down, citing unhealthy conditions and the encampment's attraction of drug users and thieves.
On Sunday at an impromptu news conference, he defended his order, saying it is his job to enforce the law and keep the peace. "This is not a game," he said.
He also noted that implementing the eviction order may require more patience.
Police numbers shifted throughout the night, but they showed no signs of moving against the protesters. Around 4 a.m., a line of about 200 police stretched across a street and in front of a federal courthouse. Protesters facing them appeared to be in a festive spirits with some banging on plastic pails, while others danced in the streets as a man juggled nearby.
Officials said that one officer suffered minor injuries when he was hit by some kind of projectile in the leg.
Police had prepared for a possible clash, warning that dozens of anarchists may be planning a confrontation with authorities. Officers seized pieces of cement blocks Friday, saying they were told some demonstrators had plans to use them as weapons against police.
It appeared earlier that about 200 campers planned to get arrested. But police action seemed less likely after the crowds swelled the parks in the early morning.
In the hours leading up to midnight, protesters held general assembly meetings where they talked about what to do when the deadline came. They also repeated the main message of the Occupy Wall Street movement of peaceful resistance to income inequality and what they see as corporate greed.
As those speeches were going on, about 60 bicycle riders circled the camp repeatedly to show support.