April 22, 2012 21:30On Saturday, April 21, 2012 at about 11:00 p.m. Portland Police officers assigned to Central Precinct became aware of a group attempting to re-occupy Chapman Square. PPB supervisors went to Chapman Square and observed approximately 30 people congregating in the middle of the park.
At 11:30 p.m. Central Precinct sergeants walked through the park and contacted the group telling them the park closed to the public at midnight. The group responded with argumentative and aggressive behavior, shouting, "who's park? Our park," and "lets go back to our home!"
Chief Michael Reese and Mayor Sam Adams were informed of the clear intention by this group to "reoccupy" Chapman Square. Per their direction, Central Precinct Command, Sergeants, and Officers entered the park and told the group the park was closed, that had to leave, and if they did not leave they would be booked in jail. PPB personnel communicated their understanding that "reoccupying the park" was a political statement that could result in arrests, which could be performed peacefully and respectfully.
After this message was communicated, demonstrators became hostile, argumentative, and defiant and refused to leave the park. They were told they would be given a short time to voluntarily leave and anyone that remained in the park after its closure would be arrested. After further discussion between the group and Central Precinct officers, all members of the group left the park voluntarily. While the group left the park, they remained gathered just outside the park on the southwest corner of Fourth Avenue and SW Madison. On that corner, demonstrators became mildly aggressive and repeatedly threatened that the real confrontation would happen on May Day (May 1st). May Day is traditionally an opportunity for labor groups and activists to peacefully protest throughout Portland. This year, many sources have indicated that some groups are interested in causing more extreme civil unrest through more direct, disruptive action. PPB officers understood the threats of this group to signify their intention to cause direct civil disobedience on May 1st.
Based on the initial compliance with park rules, officers were able to withdraw from the park and attend to more pressing public safety matters. Some officers remained in the area to monitor the demonstrators who chose to not reenter the park. However a short time later, an officer reported seeing one of the demonstrators re-enter Chapman Square then go on to climb on the elk statue in the middle of Southwest Main. During Occupy Portland's occupation of Chapman and Lownsdale Squares, the Elk Statue was considerably damaged. Donations through the Regional Arts Council had refurbished the elk at great expense. The demonstrator also tore down some of the green temporary fencing in the park. Officers responded by taking the demonstrator into custody.
Once in custody, officers learned that the demonstrator is a 15-year- old. The 15-year-old was referred to Juvenile Court on Trespass in the Second Degree, Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree, Interfering with a Police Officer and charged with a city code related to being on the statue (20.12.070). This was the 15-year-old's second Occupy related arrest and he was released to his mother.
In advance of May Day, the Portland Police Bureau and Mayor Sam Adams want to remind the community that demonstrations of free speech are an important part of our community. However, violations of the law will not be tolerated. We encourage the community to work with PPB representatives to ensure a peaceful and safe event.
Sgt. Pete Simpson