Police brutality at Occupy Portland today

  • Published on October 30th, 2011

police move in to arrest occupy portland27 members of Occupy Portland were arrested in the early hours Sunday. They were severely manhandles by police without provocation, and several report being injured while in police custody.

Portland has been practically a poster child of good city/Occupation relations. Mayor Sam Adams has been a supporter; and Oregon Congressment Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer spoke at an Occupation rally yesterday. (See video, next page) When the occupation shut down a main city street it was several days before the police moved in to make arrests, and even then it was only a few die-hards; the rest of the Occupation had already come to an agreement with police to free up the street.

So why on earth would we be looking at the spectacular police over-reaction that happened at 3 this morning, personally witness by Mayor Adams?

Occupiers have been allowed to camp in a pair of facing parks in downtown Portland, but had been warned they wouldn’t be able to take over other parks. That was the issue this time: The Occupiers wanted to spread the movement to Jameson Square, in the wealthy Pearl District.

police move against Occupy Portland with horsesThe police told them if they didn’t leave the park before a midnight curfew, they would face arrest. Most left, but a group of about 25 remained, seated, in the center of the park. Police moved in to remove them, which they did with unnecessary brutality.

Here’s the release from Occupy Portland:

About 450 supporters surrounded the park and cheered the protesters seated peacefully in a circle in the center. Six mounted police and approximately 65 police in riot gear pushed supporters to the sidewalks and conducted the arrests over a period of several hours. Mayor Sam Adams arrived on scene during the arrests and expressed that he was only there to observe, but did not order the arrests to cease. At one point, a woman was pinned between two mounted police horses while standing on the sidewalk in support of protesters and another supporter’s bicycle was crushed in the incident.

Here’s what one occupier, N, told us:

“They stalled for 2+ hours, using horses and knight sticks to divide, push and intimidate the people supporting us, as well as ourselves.

police brutality against occupy portland“Also, they did treat us very harshly when arresting us. Pulling joints in directions they shouldn’t be pushed and pressure points.

“One lady was thrown into the van; when we were waiting to be taken from the vans (which was at least 2 hours) she was in severe pain. It took an hour of us demanding medical attention for her to be taken out of the van (they stated they thought she was faking it) and was led away. The howls of pain wer the most horrific animal sound I have ever heard.

“I asked another occupier in my holding cell; they said when she saw her, she had an icepack but the wrist was still severely discolored and bent in weird angles. Also, still in severe pain. This was approximately an hour after she was taken from the van.”

Mayor Adams said he didn’t think the occupation would mix well in an area where people actually lived. “This is a neighborhood park surrounded by residential and small businesses.”

Nice strategy: Only let the occupation take place in an area where there are “dangerous elements” and night-time crime problems, and then stigmatize the occupation because of… the dangerous elements and night-time crime.

Station KGW has a video report here.

Occupy Portland website|livestream|facebook

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About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.
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  • ms peebody

    Watched the whole thing on TV and other than one of the protesters being a bit chubby and making handcuffing uncomfortable; there was no police brutality involving the sit-in group. They were peaceful and so were the cops. Please make realistic headlines or nobody is going to believe you..

    • Jeremy Bloom

      Did you read the article? That’s a report from someone who was THERE. Her friend was injured by being manhandled by the police.
      Even when cops aren’t literally busting heads, they’re often more physically harsh than they need to be.
      Demonstrators are trained in passive resistance, part of which is going limp upon arrest.
      Maybe that’s not necessary in the current circumstance, but it does make it more difficult for the police than simply leading off a walking arrestee. This can be annoying, and some police officers respond by pulling, yanking, or jerking on people as they carry them off, which can cause injury.

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  • Jason Glover

    Was also there and this report is overblown. I am not sure about what happened once they were in the van, and I was shoved a few times by police, and physically run into by police on horses trying to force me away from those sitting in the circle, and trying to prevent me from taking pictures.

    That said, most police officers present with kind and respectful, doing their job. Compared to Oakland this was about as good as things can get with police doing arrests.

    I still think the Portland police department has handled the entire Occupy situation very well compared to the rest of the country and it’s unfortunate our local Occupy got 0 news coverage until some people get arrested.

    Some things I noticed were a deliberate campaign of trying to mess with us psychologically. There were hours of just shows of force and what I believe were plants who were trying to rile up people and scare them. One man did not like it when I video taped him, and he was yelling “fuck the swine” and appeared to be a random guy passing by, not part of the movement.

    A number of drunk people walking by joined in and began heckling the police — some of them street kids yelling some pretty incoherent and outrageous things.

    We really GOT to get better at policing our own. I requested that an obnoxious girl who was screaming incoherent babble into a megaphone nonstop if she could refrain from screaming because no one could understand her, and someone yelled “go home, yuppie” at me (after I had been marching all day, and participating in the GA that decided to stay in the park).

    This shit has to stop, I don’t care if they are street folks walking by, plants by the police, trolls, or just angry teenagers who haven’t figured out how to be tactful yet. Everyone should be welcome, but we need a way to shut people up that are basically there just to start trouble or make the movement look stupid.

    Some juggalo kid was freaking saying he was going to come back with a gun. And no one said anything to him.

    These people are making this look BAD. And saying there was “police brutality” is ridiculous. The police response was stupid and exaggerated, but it wasn’t police brutality.

    Ever hear of the boy who cried wolf? We can’t call “police brutality” every time police officers just arrest people or it won’t hold any weight when Oakland level stuff happens.

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  • Mark

    I followed the whole event on TV, stream and twitter. The police were not perfect, but they weren’t that bad, either. The protesters also were not perfect, with several of them trying to start fights with the police while other protesters tried to calm them down.

    I’m a strong believer in the Occupy movement. I even thought keeping Main St. shut down was a good idea. I can’t support occupying a neighborhood park where kids play. Having the right to do something doesn’t mean it is a good idea.

    I don’t really support the police kicking the protesters out, either. The do still have the right. But I’m extremely disappointed in the protesters for causing this problem. Our enemies want to divide us, let’s not take actions that divide ourselves.