The Occupy Portland movement, which has been the focus of much discourse and debate since it was launched on October 6th, faces its first possible confrontation tonight. Mayor Sam Adams has issued an eviction order to those camping in Chapman and Lownsdale squares effective at midnight tonight.
Mayor Adams issued the order after a Molotov cocktail had been thrown at the World Trade Center by someone allegedly from the camp. The Mayor has cited generally rising crime and reports of drug overdoses in and around the camp as additional reasons for ordering that the camp be disbanded.
“I cannot wait for someone to use the camp as camouflage to inflict bodily harm on others,” said Adams in his November 10th statement.
The Mayor has taken what anyone outside of Portland would have considered an unusual step of giving the protesters three days to dismantle the camp. The protestors, in turn, have complained that three days is too little time.
It is admirable how both sides, the Mayor and police as well as the protesters, have strived to maintain the dignity of and respect for what the protestors are striving to accomplish.
By placing the focus of the action on public safety, Adams appears to be accomplishing what few mayors in the country have been able to do: Order a peaceful transition of the Occupy Portland movement from the outside.
In a gesture that speaks to the maturity of the Occupy Portland movement, it appears that a majority of those taking part in the protest camps are heeding Mayor Adam’s eviction notice.
By choosing to embrace and cooperate with the Occupy movement, the City of Portland has a chance to not only peacefully dismantle the camps, which threaten to become a public safety hazard, but to give those drawn to the Occupy movement a model of truly peaceful and powerful resistance in place of the confrontation which has marred gatherings in other cities.
True lasting change can only come about through the superiority of ideas, not arms or the willingness to engage in violence. This is something that Portlanders, whether they occupy a tent in Chapman Square or a house on NE Glisan, can all agree on.