From Michael Rollins at the Oregonian, May 15, 2008

Yellow police tape circled the Portland City Hall block this morning and signs of a homeless protest were — momentarily, at least — gone.

The tape prevented access to sidewalks and bus stops next to City Hall. Work crews were washing sidewalks and picking up garbage outside City Hall.


Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz said about 15 officers cleared the sidewalk around 5:30 a.m. Over the course of an extended protest by the city’s homeless, “fecal matter and syringes” accumulated, Schmautz said, creating an unsafe environment. He said city workers would clean the sidewalks this morning and then reopen them. Afterward, anyone would be allowed to return and protest, but that the city planned to begin enforcing its no-camping rules.

Homeless demonstrators had camped out for two weeks to demand a suspension to Portland’s anti-camping and anti-loitering laws. Most had left shortly after sunset Tuesday, after a meeting with Mayor Tom Potter. But a small group refused to go, saying the decision to end the protest amounted to “arbitrary surrender” on the part of the group’s leaders. They had remained in place yesterday afternoon.

Arthur Rios, a spokesman for the group, said yesterday that the protesters who left were reacting in part to fears that the police might move in and forcefully clear out the campers during the night. Rios said demonstrators were also “coming to terms” with political reality.

Below is a video from the protest, shot earlier this week by Faith Cathcart of The Oregonian: