More than one dozen Occupy Portland protesters were arrested on Saturday night after a clash with police that resulted when city officials closed a city park an hour before schedule.
The city closed South Park Blocks park at 8:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. ET) instead of the regular 9:30pm time because city officials claim that park employees and a park ranger were unable to complete their jobs after being confronted by protesters.
Demonstrators held their ground as the park closed early and chanted:
“This is a peaceful protest! We have the right to assemble!”
Under park rules areas are suppose to be cleared of structures (tents and other sleeping areas) which were set up by the few hundred protesters who took to the park.
City spokesman Mark Ross told CNN:
“Immediately (after) they went to the park, they were surrounded.”
After being pushed out of the park protesters marched to City Hall and into the streets where a police loudspeaker warned protesters that city parks were now closed and trespassers would be arrested.
By early Sunday morning many protesters were returning to the park and one Occupy Portland protester said of their protest and being pushed out on Saturday night:
“The First Amendment has been around longer than park ordinances.”
According to city Mayor Sam Adams the move to clear protesters has been necessary because of:
“A series of increased drug overdoses… an arsonist that used the camp as camouflage and almost a 20% increase in crime surrounding the encampment.”
Do you think police overstepped their authority in closing the park one hour early or should Occupy protesters at various locations around the country better understand city rules before occupying certain areas.