Occupy Portland is the latest to receive an ultimatum to vacate city park premises. Like Tucson, Boston, Denver, Phoenix, Berkeley and Oakland, the city of Portland has threatened to violate occupiers' First Amendment rights in a cynical attempt to move the focus of the Occupy movement away from the core issue of economic justice.
As cover, it appears that the City of Portland is leaning heavily on a few isolated incidents. A 29-year-old man threw a Molotov cocktail onto the stairs of Portland's World Trade Center. The man had a penchant for arson and just traveled from Redding, California, before committing the crime. Two additional incidents involving non-lethal overdoses were also cited as rationale for shutting down the occupation. Simply put, the City of Portland has failed to prove that the protesters of Occupy Portland are direct threats to public safety.
In fact, no city has successfully justified denying its citizens their First Amendment rights. The motive behind risking liability for First Amendment violations in civil court appears to be short-term technique of distraction. Each of these municipalities are risking civil rights lawsuits in an apparent attempt to distract the movement from their most threatening subject to the status quo: economic justice.
Ironically, mayors, council members, managers and clerks are not part of the 1%. For these bureaucrats, there is no special seat in the post apocalyptic cave awaiting them. They are not going to be hanging out with Dr. Strangelove after the end-times fantasy is fulfilled. So how strong an influence can the 1% have on city leaders? One experienced litigator, Bill Risner, eloquently broached this subject to Tucson's Mayor and Council. The best suggestion for these cities is to stop wasting time with fighting the 99% and to figure out how to help solve the problems that draw the occupiers. Here is the clip:
Thankfully, Occupy Portland seems wise to this tactic. In an emergency session held Thursday, many suggested that the occupation let the police force their way into the central camp while dispersing to new, smaller camps throughout all different areas of the city. Hearty spartans of the movement will likely stay behind until their confrontation with police, but the rest of the movement will make an end-run around the pissing match over territory. Here are some highlights of Occupy Portland's emergency assembly:
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