From Ashbel Green of the Oregonian, May 11, 2008

Portland police made seven arrests Saturday as they began enforcing Mayor Tom Potter’s decision to require homeless protesters around City Hall to obey laws against loitering and camping.

Central Precinct Commander Mike Reese said TriMet drivers were complaining that youths were sticking their feet into traffic on Southwest Jefferson Street on the south side of City Hall.

Police ordered demonstrators to leave Jefferson Street. When some refused, police started making arrests, Reese said.

Cory Burris, 18; Larry David Reynolds, 43; Christopher Aaron Ryan Kerby, 20; Henry E. Raschke, 59; Arthur A. Rios, 38; Christopher Anderson, 20; and Robert Archambalt, 21, faced accusations of interfering with a police officer. Reynolds faced an accusation of resisting arrest, Sgt. John Holbrook said.

After allowing protesters to camp around City Hall for two weeks, Potter announced Saturday that police would begin enforcing the law.

Potter cited the growth of the two-week protest from 15 people to more than 100 and the problems that has caused.

“The amount of clutter has greatly affected the ability of the public to use the sidewalk. I also have an increasing concern about the safety of both the protesters and the general public,” Potter said in a statement.

“There have been incidents of illegal activity, numerous calls for police and medical assistance, and sanitation concerns inside and outside the building,” he said.

Potter also noted that the city had opened 102 shelter beds and met with protest leaders.

Rios, one of the leaders of the Homeless Liberation Front and one of the demonstrators arrested later in the day, expressed displeasure with the change.

“We don’t think it’s right,” Rios said.

He said there still aren’t enough beds for everyone and there still isn’t space for couples or people who own dogs.

Reese said police also told protesters they could no longer camp outside City Hall starting Tuesday night.

Reese said there are lots of protests in downtown Portland and police need to enforce the law equally.

“We’re to be fair and consistent,” he said.

A protester who identified himself as “Jukebox” complained that police were sending mixed messages, first ordering them to the curb, then telling them to get off it.

By Saturday afternoon, the number of protesters had dropped to fewer than 40. There also appeared to be some arguing between protest leaders and some homeless people who were leaving to find someplace else to sleep.

City officials said they thought the protest would shrink after they came up with money to open more than 100 new shelter beds.

Instead, the crowd mushroomed this week and it appeared that transient youth passing through town were replacing the homeless.

After security on Friday found feces, syringes and trash in first floor City Hall bathrooms, Potter’s office, the police and the city attorney’s office decided it was time to start enforcing anti-loitering and anti-camping laws.

“We had noticed that things were changing, but we weren’t making the campers leave because the shelter beds weren’t open,” said Austin Raglione, Potter’s chief of staff.

“Now that they are, it’s better for the people outside City Hall, and it’s better for the people who work in the building if we start enforcing the law,” Raglione said.

“We would like them to treat it as the protest they say it is. You have every right to protest. We respect your protest. But we can’t let you camp anymore.”