Tags: Occupy | Wall | Street | Portland

Portland Occupiers Evacuate Before Evictions, Problems Persist Elsewhere

Sunday, 13 Nov 2011 12:40 PM

By Newsmax Wires

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Anti-Wall Street encampments in Portland were nearly empty Sunday as protesters packed up and left after warnings by city officials that they would be evicted over the weekend.

Fewer than a dozen tents remained at two downtown parks where protesters have camped since early October as part of the nationwide "Occupy Wall Street" movement against alleged economic injustice.

City officials said they planned to put up fences around the two Portland parks to close them to protesters on Sunday afternoon.

"The parks are going to be closed to the public effective when the Portland Police Bureau feels that it can be done in a peaceful and successful way," Mayor Sam Adams said at a Sunday morning news conference.

The mayor had put the protesters on notice on Thursday that they would be evicted "on or after" 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

Since then, many protesters have taken down tents and removed their belongings.

The mood at the parks on Sunday was "peaceful and respectful" after some raucous marching overnight, said City Council member Nick Fish.

"It's almost like the fever broke last night," he said.

On Saturday night in Portland, some 2,000 people marched, chanted and listened to music and speeches at the protest sites.

The nationwide protest movement, which started in New York in September, has voiced opposition to what the demonstrators see as an unfair concentration of wealth in the United States. They object to corporate excesses and bailouts of major banks.

Officials in some cities have cited health and safety concerns in urging demonstrators to take down their camps, or as a reason for police to force the issue.

Elsewhere, for the second time in as many days, Oakland, Calif., city officials warned protesters Saturday that they do not have the right to camp in the plaza in front of city hall and face immediate arrest.

The eviction notices come as officials across the country urged an end to similar gatherings in the wake of three deaths in different cities, including two by gunfire.

Demands for Oakland protesters to pack up increased after a man was shot and killed Thursday near the encampment site.

"Your activities are injurious to health, obstruct the free use of property, interfering with the comfortable enjoyment of (Frank Ogawa Plaza), and unlawfully obstruct the free passage or use of a public park or square," the notice read.

Oakland officials first issued the eviction notice Friday after first pleading with protesters to leave the encampment.

Police officials have said a preliminary investigation suggested the shooting resulted from a fight between two groups of men at or near the encampment. Investigators do not know if the men in the fight were associated with Occupy Oakland, but protesters said there was no connection between the shooting and the camp.

The shooting occurred the same day a 35-year-old military veteran apparently committed suicide in a tent at a Burlington, Vt., Occupy encampment. Police said a preliminary investigation showed the veteran fatally shot himself in the head. They said the death raised questions about whether the protest would be allowed to continue.

In Salt Lake City, Utah, police arrested 19 people Saturday when protesters refused to leave a park a day after a man was found dead inside his tent at the encampment.

The arrests came after police moved into the park early in the evening where protesters had been ordered to leave by the end of the day. About 150 people had been living in the camp there for weeks.

Authorities in Denver forced protesters to leave a downtown encampment and arrested four people for interfering with officers who removed illegally pitched tents, said police spokesman Sonny Jackson.

Jackson said police had advised protesters since Wednesday that their tents in Civic Center Park and on a nearby sidewalk were illegal.

Violence marked the protest in San Francisco Saturday where police said two demonstrators attacked two police officers in separate incidents during a march.

Police spokesman Carlos Manfredi said a protester slashed an officer's hand with a pen knife while another protester shoved an officer, causing facial cuts. He said neither officer was seriously hurt, and the assailants couldn't be located.

Meanwhile, in Southern California a small group of protesters braved soggy weather on Saturday to gather for the first time under the banner of Occupy Inland Empire. Members of Occupy movements in Fontana, Redlands, Riverside, and other nearby towns marched past banks and in front of San Bernardino City Hall in what they called a "visibility action," The Sun newspaper reported.

___

Associated Press writers Terry Collins in Oakland, Josh Loftin in Salt Lake City, Jim Anderson in Denver and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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