Saturday, November 12, 2011


In a few, short hours, the Portland Police Bureau will likely forcibly remove those individuals who have been camping at two parks in downtown Portland for more than a month. If protestors refuse to leave, police officers likely will arrest them on charges such as: criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, interfering with a police officer, resisting arrest and unlawful camping, to name a few. 

If media reports are accurate, some of the protesters intendto stay put and will resist their eviction. We know that several area civil rights attorneys plan on being present downtown when the eviction starts to advocate on behalf of the protestors, advise them of their rights and assist them with representation if necessary. 

As a criminal defense attorney who greatly values fundamental constitutional rights such as the rights to assemble and speak freely, I must confess that I’m torn on this one. 

I definitely support the concept of the Occupy Movement. Like so many others, I too am fed up with an unmanageable student loan debt, crazy-high property taxes, and the requirement that I pay for my daughter’s full-day kindergarten at a PUBLIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

 And the list goes on.

While corporations, banks and big business continue to get break after break, exemption after exemption. 

I get it. 

So here are my questions:

·         If overnight camping in Portland parks is illegal, why has there been an exception here?
  • ·         Why did the city publicly sanction these activities by providing services to the campers? 
  • ·         Why do the rest of us bear the burden of paying what it will take to repair these beautiful public parks and pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime to city employees?
  • ·         If the campers have been warned and warned for days about the forced eviction,  if representatives from homeless and social service agencies have taken the time to provide the campers with alternative resources, and if the police have taken every possible measure to avoid conflict, and the campers still resist/fight/commit crimes, should I have any empathy?

And no.  I’m not a Republican.  I’m a grown-up.  And yes, there is a difference.  

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