By Daniel Perin
Occupy Portland, Mayor Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese did not set out to make Portland an example for other cities to follow in handling the broader Occupy Wall Street events. But that is exactly what they did.
It is now just after 8:00 o’clock Sunday morning and reporting of the events following the announced 12:01 AM Sunday closing of Chapman and Lownsdale parks to the protesters has proven to be nearly a work of art in how the government and its citizens can work together to resolve problems. In the one physical conflict that occurred injuring a police person, the resolution came from the main body of the Occupy members who interceded and turned the hoodlum over to the police.
Unlike Oakland and Atlanta where heavy-handed police and government officials resorted to violent interaction with the Occupy groups, Portland, at all levels, worked to peacefully end the encampments so the parks could be closed and repaired. Yes, there are businesses in the downtown blocks in Portland that were beginning to lose business and were urging a stronger police action to end the occupation. But wiser, calmer heads prevailed leading to a peaceful resolution, at least until now.
Many have moved out of the parks. Volunteers within the Occupy members and others who have come downtown to help have begun the cleanup. Numbers of trucks have hauled away the debris, tents are coming down, muddy walks are being swept and cleared. At the same time food tables have been set up to feed those still at work. Many of the homeless people who joined the encampment because they had no other place to be, have been provided with at least temporary housing in shelters and motels. All in all, this has been an outstanding demonstration of democracy at its best!
I am very proud to be an Oregonian and a native Portlander. I am proud of the way in which Mayor Adams and Chief Reese have shown restraint, yet decisiveness, as they have moved forward from day to day. I have not always been a fan of Mayor Adams, but I applaud his obvious wisdom in exercising both his power as Police Commissioner and as supporter of the Occupy Movement. I realize that it is not over until it is over, but there is every reason to be hopeful that the message will endure and continue to find positive means of expression. And while Portland did not set out to be an example of the right way to work with protest movements, in fact, we have shown that restraint and peaceful steps can harmoniously resolve the serious issues facing all of us.
Again, it is not over until it is over, but we are way ahead of Oakland, Atlanta and other cities that have shown less enlightened leadership. Kudos to Adams, Reese and the Occupy General Assembly.