Monday, November 5, 2012

Occupy Portland spinoff group protests use of pepper spray at protest

The Oregonian
Deborah Bloom

One of an estimated 20 protesters who were
pepper-sprayed on Saturday gets some help.
Upset with the police bureau's use of force at Saturday's rally, Portland protesters are looking for ways to avoid such a reaction in the future when they demonstrate in public.

Portland Action Lab, an offshoot of the Occupy Portland movement, will meet Wednesday to reflect on the rally and discuss ideas for mitigating police officers' use of force, which some protesters have called excessive and violent.

"We keep running into this realization that the police are going to use force on us whenever we're in the streets," said spokesperson Nicholas Caleb.

The roughly 300-person rally against funding cuts to social and public services was mostly peaceful, but ended up with 20 people pepper-sprayed and one demonstrator arrested after police stopped the marchers from making a left turn onto a street in the Lloyd District.

Police began pepper-spraying demonstrators after they were confronted with wooden shields, department spokesperson Pete Simpson said.

Occupy Portland and other groups hold anti-austerity marchThe group also didn't have a permit for the rally, which is required for those marching on public streets. If the group had a permit, police would have been willing to escort the protesters through a route already approved by the department, Simpson said.

"We believe to express political dissent we shouldn't have to ask permission,"

said Mike Losier, another spokesperson for the group.

The police department's response to the group had become increasingly violent since the beginning of Occupy Portland, Caleb said.

"They're using riot police when there isn't a riot going on. People get bum rushed by cops in paramilitary fashion and hog tied," Caleb said.

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