From Amy Ruiz of the Portland Mercury, May 12, 2008

Just after the close of business today, Mayor Tom Potter sent a letter to the protesters outside of city hall, in response to their request for another meeting. The protesters are concerned that police will “sweep” the sidewalk outside of city hall tonight at 12:01—it becomes an illegal campsite at that moment, according to orange posters hung by the cops on Saturday morning—and had requested a public meeting for this afternoon. Instead, they’ll get to meet with Potter tomorrow at 3 pm—and the meeting is closed to the public.

Potter’s entire letter:

To the Protest Committee,Thank you for your invitation to continue our discussions. As you have suggested, I will meet with five representatives of your group at 3 p.m. Tuesday (5/13) in the Mayor’s Conference Room.

I understand that there are a number of issues you wish to address. I also want to make you aware of my concerns as we begin our conversation:

• I will not tolerate illegal behavior on public property. I believe this reflects your concerns as well. As you know, the organizers of this protest approached my office with reports of drug activity and other illegal behavior last week, and the sale of heroin was verified Friday night (5/9). Drug activity is not only illegal, it attracts people who prey on those who are most vulnerable.
• I will not tolerate behavior that raises public health concerns for both the protesters and the public. The bathrooms in City Hall have been opened for almost 10 months with few reported problems. However, since the protest began there have been conditions in the bathrooms that endanger both the protesters and public. The safety of those charged with cleaning the restrooms is an issue, and if this behavior continues I will shut down the bathrooms to outside use.
• I strongly support your right to protest. However, the City has the right to make reasonable time, place, and manner rules for the conduct of protests in public spaces, and can also act to protect the public from unnecessary obstructions as well as health, sanitation, and safety problems. Protests must comply with the City’s camping and sidewalk obstruction ordinances.

I understand these illegal actions represent the work of a minority, but it concerns me that the leadership of this protest appears unable to prevent these illegal acts. And while I believe in your right to express your views, I also believe that every right comes with a corresponding responsibility to respect the law.

The meeting in my office is not open to the public.

Advertisements