Reinforcements headed for Occupy Portland?

Nov. 11, 2011 at 5:23 PM
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PORTLAND, Ore., Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Police in Oregon said they expected an influx of protesters from neighboring states before the scheduled closure of the Occupy Portland camp this weekend.

In Vermont, Burlington police identified a man who shot himself at an Occupy camp site as an Army washout.

The Portland Police Bureau said Friday protesters had responded to the city's order to clear the downtown encampment by 12:01 a.m. Sunday by sending out a call for reinforcements from Occupy sympathizers in Seattle, San Francisco and Oakland, Calif.

"This event has been largely peaceful since Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, when the initial march occurred," the bureau said in a written statement. "We are committed to it remaining peaceful but very concerned about information that people are massing for and preparing for a confrontation with police."

The statement said Occupy demonstrators were predicting 100-300 more people would arrive in Portland and that demonstrators appeared to be fashioning shields and clubs out of wooden pallets in preparation for a weekend clash.

Tensions were already high at West Coast Occupy camps following Thursday's shooting death at a transit station just a few yards from the Occupy Oakland protest site at Frank Ogawa Plaza. Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan told reporters the shooting was the result of a fight between two groups of people and witnesses said they saw several young men flee the area, the San Francisco Chronicle said.

The Oakland police officers union Friday sent a letter to the protesters asking them to disband in the interest of public safety. The union said the Occupy protest was siphoning off manpower needed to maintain order in the city, the Oakland Tribune said.

"With last night's homicide, in broad daylight, in the middle of rush hour, Frank Ogawa Plaza is no longer safe," the letter said. "Please leave peacefully, with your heads held high, so we can get police officers back to work fighting crime in Oakland neighborhoods."

Burlington, Vt., police said Joshua Pfenning, 35, shot himself in the head Thursday at the Occupy Burlington camp at City Hall Park, the Burlington Free Press reported.

"At some point prior to the fatal shot, Mr. Pfenning had pointed the gun and threatened another person inside the tent where this occurred," Deputy Chief Andi Higbee told a news conference.

Higbee said Pfenning, who was discharged from the Army after two weeks in boot camp, had consumed a large amount of alcohol before the shooting.

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