Portland police ready for Occupy clashes

Nov. 4, 2011 at 4:57 PM
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PORTLAND, Ore., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The police chief in Portland, Ore., has raised the alert level for the force in the wake of a recent confrontation with Occupy Portland demonstrators.

A memo sent Thursday to Portland Police Bureau officers ordered all officers to wear uniforms and carry equipment suitable for a response to a disturbance such as the unscheduled march Wednesday involving about 1,000 people that led to pushing and shoving with officers trying to keep the downtown streets clear.

"The tone of this march seemed to change from previous events, and many in the crowd seemed confrontational-provoking motorists and police," Chief Mike Reese said in the memo, which was sent Thursday and released to the media Friday. "Due to the darkness and rain, visibility was limited and marchers posed a significant threat to themselves, police and motorists as they marched in the streets and onto bridges."

Reese said to relieve pressure on the bureau's patrol officers, all Portland officers would be required to wear uniforms and "have their gas mask, baton, and helmet immediately available."

The chief also indicated officers would move more quickly to clamp down on impromptu marches.

"Because unpermitted marches pose a significant threat to marchers, police and motorists, incident commanders will have the authority to order appropriate action if marchers are not staying on sidewalks and obeying laws," he said.

Demonstrators told The (Portland) Oregonian their relationship with the police had been largely cordial during the 26 days Occupy Portland has been staged. However, some said the strain seemed to be showing on the officers.

"A lot of them aren't too happy about this whole thing," said Skylar Jordan, 21. "They don't take it seriously."

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