Mayors across the nation — from New York to Salt Lake City to Oakland — are cracking down on occupy protesters. This weekend, police in riot gear evicted campers at Chapman and Lownsdale squares in Portland. Portland police arrested more than 50 people. “The encampment idea became hijacked by people who were more interested in a party,” Sergeant Pete Simpson, a spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau.
Demanding an apology for the “police brutality” and “excessive physical violence” against its members, spokespersons from the Occupy Portland movement held a news conference this morning. They asserted that police “armed with tasers, stun batons, beanbag weapons, tear gas, pepper spray and live ammunition” destroyed their camps. “We observed police officers clubbing our fellow citizens and friends with batons.”
Addressing government authorities, one occupy spokeswoman used the police aggression as an opportunity to refocus on the larger message of the movement:
You claim to support us, and yet you tell your police force to destroy us. Peaceful citizens are being injured in the process. This is not democratic, this is autocratic. … We have said from day one that our fight is not with you, but rather with banks, irresponsible corporations, and a corrupt federal government. By camping outside the city hall, we gave you a choice to decide to stand with us and with working class Americans. Instead, you made the choice to protect unjust social and economic policies that are leading our nation into a state of financial ruin and institutionalized oppression.
In a recent interview, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan hinted that the aggression against the Occupy movement has been a coordinated effort among at least 18 cities.