Portland police move in on Occupy protesters

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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.

Some officers used nightsticks to push people away from the encampment and used loudspeakers to warn that anyone who resisted risked arrest and “may also be subject to chemical agents and impact weapons.” Demonstrators chanted “we are a peaceful protest.”

Police could be seen carrying at least one protester away from the park. Another man was taken away on a stretcher; he was alert and talking to paramedics, and raised a peace sign to fellow protesters, who responded with cheers. There was no immediate word on arrests.

“We were talking about what we were going to do and then they just started hitting people. Seems like a waste of resources to me,” protester Mike Swain, 27, told the Associated Press.

Choya Adkison, 30, said police moved in after giving demonstrators a false sense of calm. They thought they had time to rest, relax and regroup, she said

“Camp was completely vulnerable, completely defenseless” when police moved in, she said. “I’m disappointed that they created a sense of trust by walking away and then completely trampled it.”

Mayor Sam Adams had ordered the camp shut down Saturday at midnight, citing unhealthy conditions and the encampment’s attraction of drug users and thieves.

The anti-Wall Street protesters and their supporters had flooded the park area even as authorities in other cities stepped up pressure against demonstrators, arresting dozens of people.

At one point overnight, the Portland crowd swelled to thousands. As dawn arrived, riot police had retreated and most of the crowds had gone home, but protesters who have been at the two parks since Oct. 6 were still there.

One of the organizers, Jim Oliver, said the night had been a victory for Occupy Portland.

“We stood up to state power,” Oliver told the AP, standing on a corner opposite the camp.

Still, the camp was a shadow of what it was before Saturday. A large segment of the campers consisted of homeless people who had been drawn to the free food and shelter offered by Occupy Portland. They are gone, after outreach workers went through the camp to help them find shelter elsewhere.

And as the Saturday midnight eviction deadline neared, protesters themselves began dismantling tents.

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