Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy Portland - Sunday at the camp

Cacophonous message (in need of a spell-check)
On Saturday night, a splinter group moved from the main camp site at Chapman/Lownsdale Parks to occupy Jamison Square in the Pearl District.  The City would have none of it.  Police in riot gear and on horseback swept in and arrested twenty-some people.  Others left voluntarily.  There was no violence.

The Occupiers released a statement in response to the arrests, saying they "stand in solidarity with people in Oakland, Atlanta, Chicago, and other cities where aggressive police raids and 2,826 arrests have attempted to forcibly disperse peaceful assembly and political protest.  The occupation movement condemns police brutality as well as the unjust and growing inequality of wealth, resources, and political influence in the nation and world."
Portland police still on-hand
Fair words.  But no police brutality occurred at Jamison Square.  Throughout this Occupy demonstration, Portland police have conducted themselves admirably.  At least so far as I have seen.  Certainly, they haven't pulled anything like they did when Mayor Katz had them pepper-spray down citizens because they were protesting Junior Bush when his presence blighted the city back in August 2002.

Mayor Adams, it seems, has made the decision to contain the Occupiers and wait them out.  A test of resolve, then.  So be it. 
Ethan Edwards
On Sunday, coming home from the early matinee, I stopped in at the Occupy Portland camp.  I spent a little while chatting with Ethan Edwards, another fellow named Deva, and the irrepressible Raya Cooper, whom I had met before.

I asked them:  "What needs to happen in order for you to pack up your gear and go?  What needs to change?"

"We were talking about that earlier," said Ethan.  He didn't exactly shrug as he said it, but none of the three provided a clear answer.  I wonder, is there anyone associated with the movement that really could provide an answer?  I have my doubts about that.
Deva and the irrepressible Raya Cooper
But I don't think it matters.  As I've said before, the demonstration is a broad indictment of a thoroughly-corrupted political and economic system.  The Occupiers don't necessarily have to provide the answer.  Their function is to draw attention to the injustice so that we can all figure out the answer.

Ethan, Deva, Raya and I had a pretty good chat.  They seemed in good spirits.  I didn't think to mention it, but I'm grateful to them and to all the Occupiers.  Someone needs to take a stand. 

On my way out of camp, I went by the kitchen.  The Worn-out Shoes were laying down a bluegrass jam.  Overhead, heavy raindrops pattered on the tarp, like a chorus of low voices, murmuring assent, urging strength and solidarity.

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