An open letter from Mayor Sam Adams to the Occupy Portland encampment

November 7, 2011

The following is a message reposted by the Information Desk, originally from Mayor Sam Adams:

To the Occupy Portland encampment:

I know that you agree that the growing number of arrests and reports of illicit drug and alcohol use, violent behavior and other criminal conduct must be immediately addressed. I understand that similar challenges have arisen at other Occupy encampments. Uniquely, I appreciate that Occupy Portland, via the website, is one of the few encampments to clearly note these challenges.

Thanks you for meeting with representatives of the police bureau, my staff, non-profit service providers, and me to discuss concerns and potential solutions face-to-face.

The purpose of this open letter is to underscore to all Occupy Portland supporters the urgency of dealing with these issues. The way things are operating now is not sustainable.

I know there is a nationwide Occupy process for working through those things, which I want to give some time to work. But we cannot wait long.

It is imperative that solving these serious problems be a priority for Occupy Portland, before a serious injury or death occurs. I do not want to see something like the following incidents occur in Portland, and I’m sure you do not, either:

  • In Vancouver, B.C., there has been a death in camp that is a suspected drug overdose; and,
  • In Washington D.C., protesters have reportedly been the victims of two hit-and-run incidents.

I have said from the beginning that I believe the Occupy movement would have to evolve in order to realize its full potential. Based on my conversations with mayors around the country, I know that Portland is not unique in facing these real issues around camps. But I hope we are unique in our solutions. In Bend, Oregon, Occupy participants have closed their camp, but continue to meet regularly. I believe Occupy Portland can lead the nation in figuring out what the next phase of the Occupy Movement looks like.

We’ve got work to do—and by we, I mean everybody, including all Occupy supporters. I look forward to finding solutions in the coming days.


Sam Adams


31 Responses to An open letter from Mayor Sam Adams to the Occupy Portland encampment

  1. Simon on November 7, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    I think the camp is out of control and impeding political action. I understand that integrating the excluded and traditionally marginalized is important. I also agree that caring, loving, and accepting is, in itself, a huge political statement. But we need to be able to gather, think, discuss and initiate strategies for acting politically in the larger society, and the current levels of toxicity and aggressive behavior in the camp do not make that possible. I am part of OccupyPortland and will continue to be but I don’t want to be in the camp any longer. OccupyPortland is, to my view, anyone who is able to support, positively, social change for us and the future generations. There is much work to do and we need to be sober enough, healthy enough, stable enough, to listen to each other, to think reflectively, to act timely, and to carry on the change. I don’t think closing the camp is selling out.

  2. Anonymous on November 7, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    What a load of shit. Sam Adams – you want people to pack it up? I know you’ve been trying to advance that message through your contacts in the camp. Guess what? You’re going to have to reveal yourself for the thug that you are. You’re going to have to order your lackies to come in with weapons to remove the occupation. It’s not going anywhere. And if you try to shut it down, be prepared for a response. You don’t get to decide what happens here. The 99% do.

    • Anonymous on November 7, 2011 at 9:24 pm

      And I’ll add that it’s clear to me that this is just another in a long line of manufactured crisis put forward by the Mayor’s office in order to disrupt the occupation and keep it distracted from growing into a powerful social movement. The problems the occupation faces mirror the problems in society at large and we are working collectively to address them. If the Mayor decides to use force to close the camps, we need everyone who thinks that this movement is too important to give up on to flood the camps and defend them. Don’t let Sam Adams and the 1% decide when it’s time for us to go home. This may be our last opportunity – we won’t let it go without a fight.

      • JR on November 7, 2011 at 10:15 pm

        To the people commenting above: The mayor is placating you, which is more than most people in authority are going to do much longer. The time has long since arrived where you need to disperse and as Mayor Gulliani said, “Occupy a Job”. You say you will not go without a fight. Then be prepared for the harsh reality that SWAT teams and ultimately the National Guard will do to throngs of you trying to create disturbance with your tactics. Normal people everywhere are really getting fed up with your nonsense! If occupiers push it, there will be blood, and it will be predominantly your own that is spilled. Grow up and try to change the system from within. Look at your President. He has done the best he can to destroy this country from within, and so far he is doing a darned good job! You are spitting in the wind. Bottom line: The bulk of Americans do not care about your “collectives”. The bulk of Americans do not want Socialism or Communism. As for “corporate greed”: You are not going to legislate or change human nature, which is hurrah for me and to hell with everybody else! I have yet to meet ONE taxpayer who doesn’t admit to lying or cheating (in some way) at income tax time. Guess what? I am referring to everyday citizens, not corporations. And I never met a homeowner who did not expect to make tens of thousands of dollars when it comes time to sell their old house to some poor schnook who wants to buy it. They are ordinary people … not corporations! Everyone keeps talking about how the govt made laws for the banking industry to follow to issue subprime mortgages and give home loans to people who could barely pay their rent. NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THE FACT THAT PEOPLE ARE GREEDY. EXAMPLE: Person buys an older house for $100 K and lives in for 10 years, then turns around and sells the old used dump for $150 K. EVERYBODY DOES THIS. IT IS WRONG. IT IS IMMORAL. IT HAS JACKED UP HOUSING PRICES THROUGH THE ROOF. You think you are going to change that too? Grow up and “Occupy A Job”! Oh also, you can all say what you want about police. However, without your cozy “collective”, alone in society, your are sitting ducks for crime just like everybody else. If you were a victim of property crime, assault, or any other violent crime, I wonder how many occupiers would all of the sudden WANT the police in their life, WANT the justice system, the courts and all those little amenities that NONE OF YOU WANT TO PAY FOR. FREE EDUCATION … FREE HEALTHCARE …. THE GOVT PAYING OFF YOUR STUDENT LOANS. What a joke. If you all want everything for free, who is left to pay for it? SOCIALISM: A great idea until you run out of people to pay for it!

  3. j on November 7, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Dear Mayor Sam Adams,

    There is a far more grave situation facing the city of Portland than the alleged problems at the Occupation camp site. I am referring to the multi-trillion dollar mortgage securitization fraud which occurred in recent years. Bankers manufactured thousands of phony mortgage securities, which were fraudulently mispriced. Trillions of dollars were transfered from the working and middle classes to the banking crooks. This happened in two ways. [1] Pension funds grossly overpaid for nearly worthless mortgage securities. [2] Working class people paid vast sums of interest and principal payments into mortgages that were designed to fail from the beginning. Banks ended up with all the payments collected up until the housing crash, as well as the houses received through foreclosure. This was the greatest financial crime in history. It is 100 times larger than the Savings and Loan scandal of the 1980s. Thousands of Managing Directors, Directors, and Vice Presidents participated in this fraud. While a lot of these crooks reside in NYC, a fair number of these criminals live in Oregon and helped to source mortgages locally for this criminal enterprise. To date ZERO bankers have been arrested by the Portland Police Department or other State of Oregon authorities. When police and government fail to arrest these criminals, it extinguishes respect for the law. Sam Adams, please get your act together and instruct your prosecutors and police department to immediately begin an investigation of this outrageous crime and proceed with arrests of the banking criminals.

  4. Jackie on November 7, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    When I was a freshman at Reed oh so many years ago, a student died of an overdose. It was tragic. No one suggested the college should close down. I’ve learned a hell of a lot more at OP than I ever did at Reed.

  5. Rick John Denton on November 7, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    I thought he might be a bolder person. Well, now we have a mayor moralizing like Channel 6 about things that happen daily on his streets already, except now it’s in or near the encampment, therefore it’s the occupiers’ fault.

    Disbanding the occupation of Portland is not an option as far as I’m concerned. This is about confronting the relentless forces arrayed against the common man, including the homeless one, and it starts here.

  6. Crash on November 8, 2011 at 12:17 am

    An Open Letter to Mayor Sam Adams
    –from one occupier

    I agree that the high rate of dereliction in Portland is unsustainable. This is why the Occupy Movement has so stridently called for fundamental change in this country. The economic injustice we face is incredible, with more and more folks falling through the cracks all the way to the bottom.

    I understand that the status quo political process is glacially slow. But we are running out of patience. The unsustainable system of capitalist America is self-destructing, and we will not simply stand by and watch silently. Unless positive steps are taken soon, we will have to resort to forceful intervention.

    Meanwhile, let us straighten out the chronology of events here: the encampment did not create derelicts. Your system did.

    Your letter is correct about one thing in the end: the Occupy Movement is evolving. In the near future, we will be occupying City Hall, the universities, the police, the banks, the media, and even the bedrooms of America. This process is inexorable, as we have already occupied the consciousness of this country while the status quo system self-destructs.


  7. Greg on November 8, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Dear Occupy Portland:
    As a supporter of the movement, and American, and a Portlander, I write this letter to all of my fellow Occupy Supporters in response to Mayor Adams letter to the movement. The time has come for the movement to change, to grow, and to carry its message to a larger audience. As I see it, both the Portland Police Bureau and the Occupy Movement have an opportunity here to show the world how this is done. With peace and respect for all who wish to be heard, or show opposition. We have the opportunity to not damage the property of others, who by the way quite probably are also members of the 99%. Who also cannot deny that something is terribly wrong with the conduct of our elected officials, with how corporations have enslaved those who make them richer every day and give nothing in return, or how there is no future for the young. EVERYONE has an issue with current state of the world, and to date no one has been excluded by this movement. That is part of what makes us unique.

    We see the conflicts in other cities escalating, but yet Portland’s problems have been minor nuisances in comparison. We, the city, the movement, the PPB, have the opportunity to show off our world class police, force who have worked with the movement every step of the way, to continue to have that good relationship. With all of the press, we have the opportunity to set the tone for other Occupations and hopefully spread our message of peace to other cities which have not been so lucky to avoid police conflicts. We are not here to damage others property, or hurt each other. If you are violent, or incapable of hearing an opposing opinion, a criminal on the lam, or simply homeless looking for a place to live, you have no place claiming to be a part of this movement, and it the responsibility of every one of us not to allow them to detract from our message and the peaceful delivery of our message. OR messages, remember, everyone has a place here, a voice here, this is America.

    With 14 million Americans out of work and countless brave soldiers about to return home, there is a potential huge base of supporters. None of these people can deny that there is problem(s) with the state of OUR union, or lack thereof. If 14 million Americans can’t find work already, what is going to happen when the boys come home? With companies such as Merryl Lynch taking stimulus money and turning around paying out huge bonuses,, wasting taxpayer money, our money, the 99%, we can no longer stand by silently by and be enslaved to these criminals and not demand more. Better pay, better working conditions, and of course jobs! If you want to combat socialism and government regulation, corporate America must step up to the plate and act responsibly. Bank of America’s CEO, part of the merger in the previous story, recently can be quoted defending his company’s $5.00 debit card fee by saying, “We have the right to make a profit.” [Moynihan, 5 October 2011] Yes Mr. Moynihan, and “We the People”, have the right to put you out of business. Bank of America and Merryl Lynch are not the only corporations to act irresponsibly, Portland General Electric dodged how much in taxes recently?, and All the while our elected officials did nothing and most of America was not outraged while we work to make these people rich as they lower our pay and impoverish our country, and NOT pay the fair taxes THEY OWE. How many days of school would $88 million fund? How many other corporations simply sent their senator on a nice quiet vacation to turn a blind eye? There is no denying that in capitalist society we have unlimited potential, but so do the people, every one of us to demand change when we are being taken advantage of. 14 million Americans out of work, and our congress spends 35 minutes debating our national motto!–yet-again/2011/11/02/gIQAiZRWfM_story.html. Black, white, pink, green, gay, straight, Democrat or Republican, I ask you how much did this cost us as taxpayers while our country’s economy is crumbling, schools are closing and 50% of the 14 million out of work are now out of unemployment. As if there was any doubt at all as to our nations motto! From anyone. The answer is that they don’t hear us yet, but, the potential support base of people who cannot turn their heads is much larger than this movement seems to realize. I am writing this letter to ask ALL OCCUPY SUPPORTERS to pull together now more than ever to stop this insanity and take back our country from crooks. They can’t hear us yet, but by not tainting the movement with violence, vandalism, rapes, drugs, etc., we have the potential to attract many, many more supporters. In order to do that, the movement must organize and spread the message. We cannot allow camping in parks, the criminal behavior, the destruction to other members of the 99%’s property, violence toward one another, or toward police officers to detract from our mission. And this mission is the change our country, remind our elected officials who is boss, demand change, and show unethical corporate leaders that we can and will put them out of business. We are American, we made your rich, and we can take it away.

    Back to Mayor Adams letter. If our movement does not change, we will be evicted by force. By damaging the park, allowing criminal activity, and disrupting the lives of our potential further support, we alienate far too many of the 99% who has not joined us yet. I implore you in the park, not to deter from your message any longer with these “childish issues”, and I do not wish to suppress your message, but to offer advice on how to expand your voice, change our image, and attract more of the 99%. As money begins to flow in, as charities begin to offer assistance, we gain strength. Use that money to repair the damages to the parks and restore them to the condition they were before the movement began. Use that money to get office space! Use that money to organize bigger events to spread the message in a peaceful way, get on the radio, hand out fliers, rent loud speakers so the marches can be even bigger and bigger, get permits and let the PPB work with us, but the time has come to ORGANIZE.

    Mayor Adams and Portland Police Bureau are offering the movement the opportunity not to fall victim the violence, the vandalism, the criminal behavior and the destruction of more property that belongs to the rest of the 99%. (Even if corporate owned, its use is intended for ALL) By avoiding the clashes that we see in other cities, we have the potential to tap on a very large group of support by not souring a movement with great potential with violence, criminal behavior, and vandalism. I ask my fellow protesters to respect the officers who attempt to balance the rights of everyone, while at the same time still being only one budget cut away from being part of the 14 million Americans already out of work. I ask my fellow Occupiers to make room for our brave veterans coming home to a dismal work environment and who will be discharged into the 14 million unemployed. Democrat or Republican we are all the face of this movement, and everyone has a voice here. Please vacate the park and return it to the way it was before the Occupation with the money from gracious supporters who are the 99% and attract more rather than repel them. Let’s Occupy some empty office space and organize the largest demonstrations yet, bring out the support we need, and continue to work with the police department so that they can help everyone be heard. From the tone of the letter, I would hope that you can move fast. Preferably in 48 hours at most and organize one huge protest to celebrate organization.

    “Teach, and Teach Peace”

    Thank you for reading a letter from a crazy left wing nut case who still believes in his country.
    Greg Reynolds, I am just one face in the 99%, and together we ARE the 99%.
    Prospective Graduate student, Portland State University

  8. psychohistorian on November 8, 2011 at 12:29 am

    This from Crooks and Liars blog
    Guest Editorial by Sara Robinson, Senior Fellow, Campaign for America’s Future

    I wish I could say that the problems that the Occupy movement is having with infiltrators and agitators are new. But they’re not. In fact, they’re problems that the Old Hippies who survived the 60s and 70s remember acutely, and with considerable pain.

    As a veteran of those days — with the scars to prove it — watching the OWS organizers struggle with drummers, druggies, sexual harassers, and racists brings me back to a few lessons we had to learn the hard way back in the day, always after putting up with way too much over-the-top behavior from people we didn’t think we were allowed to say no to. It’s heartening to watch the Occupiers begin to work out solutions to what I can only indelicately call the a**hole problem. In the hope of speeding that learning process along, here are a few glimmers from my own personal flashbacks — things that it’s high time somebody said right out loud.

    1. Let’s be clear: It is absolutely OK to insist on behavior norms.
    Occupy may be a DIY movement — but it also stands for very specific ideas and principles. Central among these is: We are here to reassert the common good. And we have a LOT of work to do. Being open and accepting does not mean that we’re obligated to accept behavior that damages our ability to achieve our goals. It also means that we have a perfect right to insist that people sharing our spaces either act in ways that further those goals, or go somewhere else until they’re able to meet that standard.

    2. It is OK to draw boundaries between those who are clearly working toward our goals, and those who are clearly not.

    Or, as an earlier generation of change agents put it: You’re either on the bus, or off the bus. Are you here to change the way this country operates, and willing to sacrifice some of your almighty personal freedom to do that? Great. You’re with us, and you’re welcome here. Are you here on your own trip and expecting the rest of us to put up with you? In that case, you are emphatically NOT on our side, and you are not welcome in our space.

    Anybody who feels the need to put their own personal crap ahead of the health and future of the movement is (at least for that moment) an a**hole, and does not belong in Occupied space. Period. This can be a very hard idea for people in an inclusive movement to accept — we really want to have all voices heard. But the principles Occupy stands for must always take precedence over any individual’s divine right to be an a**hole, or the a**holes will take over. Which brings me to….

    3. The consensus model has a fatal flaw, which is this: It’s very easy for power to devolve to the people who are willing to throw the biggest tantrums.
    When some a drama king or queen starts holding the process hostage for their own reasons, congratulations! You’ve got a new a**hole! (See #2.) You must guard against this constantly, or consensus government becomes completely impossible.

    4. Once you’ve accepted the right of the group to set boundaries around people’s behavior, and exclude those who put their personal rights ahead of the group’s mission and goals, the next question becomes: How do we deal with chronic a**holes?

    This is the problem Occupy’s leaders are very visibly struggling with now. I’ve been a part of a**hole-infested groups in the long-ago past that had very good luck with a whole-group restorative justice process. In this process, the full group (or some very large subset of it that’s been empowered to speak for the whole) confronts the troublemaker directly. The object is not to shame or blame. Instead, it’s like an intervention. You simply point out what you have seen and how it affects you. The person is given a clear choice: make some very specific changes in their behavior, or else leave.

    This requires some pre-organization. You need three to five spokespeople to moderate the session (usually as a tag team) and do most of the talking. Everybody else simply stands in a circle around the offender, watching silently, looking strong and determined. The spokespeople make factual we statements that reflect the observations of the group. We have seen you using drugs inside Occupied space. We are concerned that this hurts our movement. We are asking you to either stop, or leave.

    When the person tries to make excuses (and one of the most annoying attributes of chronic a**holes is they’re usually skilled excuse-makers as well), then other members of the group can speak up — always with I messages. I saw you smoking a joint with X and Y under tree Z this morning. We’re all worried about the cops here, and we think you’re putting our movement in danger. We are asking you to leave. Every statement needs to end with that demand — We are asking you to either stop, or else leave and not come back. No matter what the troublemaker says, the response must always be brought back to this bottom line.

    These interventions can go on for a LONG time. You have to be committed to stay in the process, possibly for a few hours until the offender needs a restroom break or gets hungry. But eventually, if everybody stays put, the person will have no option but to accept that a very large group of people do not want him or her there. Even truly committed a**holes will get the message that they’ve crossed the line into unacceptable behavior when they’re faced with several dozen determined people confronting them all at once.

    Given the time this takes, it’s tempting to cut corners by confronting several people all at once. Don’t do it. Confronting more than two people at a time creates a diffusion-of-responsibility effect: the troublemakers tell themselves that they just got caught up in a dragnet; the problem is those other people, not me. The one who talks the most will get most of the heat; the others will tend to slip by (though the experience may cause them to reconsider their behavior or leave as well).

    This process also leaves open the hope that the person will really, truly get that their behavior is Not okay, and agree to change it. When this happens, be sure to negotiate specific changes, boundaries, rules, and consequences (if we see you using drugs here again, we will call the police. There will be no second warning), and then reach a consensus agreement that allows them to stay. On the other hand: if the person turns violent and gets out of control, then the question is settled, and their choice is made. You now have a legitimate reason to call the cops to haul them away. And the cops will likely respect you more for maintaining law and order.

    Clearing out a huge number of these folks can be a massive time suck, at least for the few days it will take to weed out the worst ones and get good at it. It might make sense to create a large committee whose job it is to gather information, build cases against offenders, and conduct these meetings.

    And finally:

    5. It is not wrong for you to set boundaries this way.
    You will get sh-t for this. But…but…it looks a whole lot like a Maoist purge unit! No. There is nothing totalitarian about asking people who join your revolution to act in ways that support the goals of that revolution. And the Constitution guarantees your right of free association — which includes the right to exclude people who aren’t on the bus, and who are wasting the group’s limited time and energy rather than maximizing it. After all: you’re not sending these people to re-education camps, or doing anything else that damages them. You’re just getting them out of the park, and out of your hair. You’re eliminating distractions, which in turn effectively amplifies the voices and efforts of everyone else around you. And, in the process, you’re also modeling a new kind of justice that sanctions people’s behavior without sanctioning their being — while also carving out safe space in which the true potential of Occupy can flourish.

    • Steven on November 8, 2011 at 2:54 am

      Sara’s right here. What hurt the movement years ago was allowing those bent on destruction free reign until it was too late and the divisiveness, violence and harm was done. Get the behavioral rules in place, enforce them, and get focused on the greater prize..that of the need for change of the national system. You will be marginalized and lose all support if you allow the distractions and detractors to continue to flourish.

    • Wysskers on November 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      Hey, I just wanted to provide a link to the article that’s quoted above. Maybe save a few people some search time looking for it :)–Ahole-problem-flashbacks-old

  9. John on November 8, 2011 at 6:03 am

    How many innocent people died today as a result of colladeral damage in the war on terror? How many people took drugs in Chapman today? How many people were evicted from there homes today because they couldn’t pay their mortgages? How many homeless weirdos slept in Chapman Park last night? How many people went without medical attention because they couldn’t pay an insurance company? How much money did the insurance companies make today on insurance premiums today? How many tax payer dollars were given to the bankers in the federal reserve today? How much money was stolen from occupy portland today? How many new natural resources were taken over by profit seeking corporations today? How many people were threatened with violence in Chapman Park today? How much was the earth polluted today? How many dirty hippies went without bathing in Chapman Park today? Who will stand up in solidarity and march in protest against a system that has failed? How many people are occupying Chapman park today?

  10. Eric on November 8, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Hahahaha! Your so-called movement is imploding! You think you’re highly educated because you’ve taken out student loans to sit in a classroom? Sure you’ve listened to lots of one-sided, radical, left wing information and propaganda – but reading and being taught that is not the same as being educated (and I’m not blasting the concept of higher education – I have a Masters – it’s just that being a passive student is not education). An educated person seeks out many opposing viewpoints and information, verifies the accuracy and examines the biases of those viewpoints and information, uses inductive and deductive logic to examine the information, civilly and with an open-mind discuss the information, ask questions to gain clarification, and then draw conclusions. Most of you Occupiers appear instead to have gone to classes where a left-wing radical professor tells you what he thinks, presents both sides of the same side of an argument (LOL), has you read books that support the professor’s hypotheses, and ostracizes those who disagree. You’ve come away with a distinct worldview that is not complete or balanced, and prevents you from understanding reality. That’s not education. If you are our nation’s future, God help us.

  11. An Actual Occupier on November 8, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Nope, that bullshit excuse will no longer fly.. I say to anyone and everyone who for a single second excuses violent behavior and rampant drug and alcohol abuse because “Waaa, waaaaaa! The system never gave me a chance! WAAA!” grow up you fucking baby. I may be wrong on this, and I stand corrected and apologize if that is the case but I am willing to bed that everyone here using that tired excuse does not camp at Occupy Portland. Hell, I would be surprised if they even have visited it. It’s very easy to say from the comfort of home behind a computer screen that people deserve everything without having to work for anything. So if you are not camping, your opinion is immediately invalidated as uninformed and lacking critical perspective.

    I have been at camp since day 6 when I was inspired by the tenacity and passion of the General Assembly in working for the admittedly at times frustratingly vague and broad mission of the Occupy movement. My first night, I was very disappointed in seeing that the majority of the people who were there for activism went home at night and what was left was the homeless, mentally ill, and drug addicted people many of whom did not even have any clue that the space they were draining resources from like a parasitic cancer was even a place with a political mission. I had to learn to accept this, hoping against all pragmatic rationality that somehow these same people would realize they are part of a movement whether they realize it or not and start to offer something back to the camp community that they have taken so much from. This foolish, naive hope continued in everyone, even as the problem grew and grew and grew and eventually so overwhelmed the camp population that I would guess in all honesty and seriousness that there is an approximate ratio of 25:1 leeches vs activists. Time after time we would go to the nightly General Assembly and try to think of methods of outreach that could reach this population. And every night people would leave the Assembly thinking that they know how to get through to them this time.

    Oh, and by the way.. at this point in the timeline I would say there were 25 campers or so during the meeting of the General Assembly present with a total Assemblage of approximately 250.

    Eventually, heartbroken and emotionally exhausted, the volunteer force, many of whom people who had been with the movement and the camp since the beginning on October 6th and before began to quietly bow out from Occupy seeing that they could not provide the resources necessary to sustain a community so filled with problem elements. No one wanted to have to tell people they couldn’t be a part of Occupy especially as they are a symptom of systemic problems that go right to the core of what Occupy was trying to fight. After the second week or so, people simply stopped talking about it. It became the 500lb Gorilla in the room that no one wanted to talk about. I had seen this coming, and attempted to get across that the path that we were currently on was one that is not sustainable under any forseeable circumstances. But still people held on to the hope that with enough outreach we could turn the problem population into effective members of our community.

    Enter week 3, the population of camp is somewhere between 600-800 who sleep there nightly. Of this 600-800 population (I admit this population figure is based on little more then some rough estimates based on unscientific observations but it seems right) only between 10-15 would attend the General Assembly. The single most important tool for effective communication, decision making, and action planning was being fully ignored in utterly overwhelming numbers. The problem of violence has reached the point where every rational person who is camping there lives in constant fear because we do not know if the two street families who are in the camp that have an ongoing war between them is going to erupt into a riotous rumble. We do not know if the mentally ill individuals who exhibit dangerously violent behavior both verbal and physical, with weapons and without are going to have the thing occur that pushes them over the edge from simply walking around screaming that they are going to stab you in the eyeball and fuck your eye socket to actually doing so. We do not know if the outrageously violent drunken rabble rousing constantly occuring with a specific area and population of camp I will leave unnamed for the sake of decorum is going to result in a murder or at the very least a substance related death. There are rumors of child prostitution. I do not know what evidence there is if any to back this up, but it is something that more then a couple people have mentioned as occuring. Sexual assaults, some against minors, have gotten to the point where the fact that one occured isn’t even considered exceptional but rather par for the course. There are active and operating rings of meth and heroin dealers using the camp as a safe place to buy, sell, and use their drugs with impunity because they know the police are pretty hands off and relatively speaking almost never walk within the camp but instead circle the perimeter and only come in if they hear or see someone in immediate danger or their presence is requested. However distrust, hatred, and completely baseless agression against anything resembling an authority figure is so rampant that the camp Safety team (themselves ineffectual and impotent to do anything, if they even cared anymore which at this point in the timeline they no longer do) does not even bring in a police presence when someone is waving a loaded gun around saying that he is going to kill everyone that had something to do with some unwanted, unnecessary, and stupid drama that someone in camp has brought upon the larger population. At night, it is a busy hub of drug sales and of course use and the more prone to violence among the population are constantly screaming so loudly they can be heard literally for blocks around them that they are going to kill X individual for Y reason. At day, it is clear to anyone observing that the Occupy Portland camp no longer in any way resembles a political movement or tries to foster an image and attitude of welcome to the public but instead has become where the proclivity towards abhorrent behavior in every possible respect of the word has become so common it is mundane.

    The last time I saw new people visit the camp was about a week ago. A group of I would venture middle aged men and women who (admittedly based purely on an unfair first impression character assumption) are upper middle class socially liberal people who agree with Occupy in the vague sense of it being a movement against all forms of economic equality. Anyways.. I saw them walking around with a look in their eyes that changed between concern, and disgust. While there, one individual in a mask (know what, that’s not cute, the FBI doesn’t care enough about you to have a file on you because you are an Anarchist. Because in all your bluster and bile you have done precious nothing to actually attempt to achieve your goal of the total destruction of the US government.. so show your face, you fucking coward) went up to them and called them a variety of things.. fascist, pigs, etc etc ad nauseum and finished off with a threat to stab them on behalf of A Camp. Whoops.. did I mention them by name? My mistake, I don’t mean to imply that they are a fucking sophmoric group of thugs who make everyone who is not them suffer in misery putting up with their constant screaming, fighting, and overall inebriation.

    “But An Actual Occupier, I heard that they are the only individuals who have been successful in getting some people who were particularly vile in their behavior to leave and never come back. So clearly they are contributing something.”

    Yes, they do have that distinct honor of being the closest thing to effective enforcement of the rules that we adopted in order to best be able to function as a living community. Oh.. wait.. they actually only kicked out people they actively had a problem with themselves and the one time someone attempted to stand their ground a girl ran up to him and hit him with a U-Lock in the head as everyone cheered and they dragged him out of the park and continued to beat him.

    That brings us to the most recent days, where the population of 600-800 nightly is almost entirely people who are problem elements with no intention, no desire, and no willingness to be a productive member of our community. They have become indignant and angry that their voices are not being heard in the decision making process, yet at the same time refuse to attend the General Assembly which is the only way you can assure your voice will be heard. The nightly General Assembly at this point I should add has dwindled to a scant 30-50 attendees a night, usually somewhere between 4 and 6 of them being campers. They choose not to attend because they do not like the process that has been adopted by consensus vote to use. Even when we tell them that they are free to bring those concerns to the General Assembly and even change them through our proposal process, they instead continue to drink, use and sell drugs, and perpetuate the feeling of hopelessness and chaos among the camp while continuing to bitch that their voices are not being heard.

    Race gangs have emerged. Latino gangs have threatened to start riots. White Supremecists spew their disgusting venom. I won’t even go on with this point, because it’s so fucking disgusting that I don’t even want to have to describe it.

    So you know what, you snivelling little fucking pissant? I have absolutely ZERO fucking compassion any more for your plight as the downtrodden in society and it being the cause of your substance issues which lead to violent behavior. It is a complete and utter bullshit excuse that attempts to absolve you of any responsibility for your life. I sympathize with being at the bottom rung, I am in fact a homeless individual. But I also have a job. I also arrested my chemical abuse issues a long time ago because I realized they were destroying not only my body but my soul. I stopped blaming others for my problems and FUCKING. TOOK. OWNERSHIP of my life and its direction. So if you want to be a part of the Occupy movement, a member of the Occupy camp, a constructive piece of a very very large puzzle where you are welcome, wanted, and needed.

    But if you are going to only serve as a destructive force, ruining the public perception of Occupy Portland and currently being extremely close to completely destroying the movement on a local level then we don’t welcome you. You are not welcome. And you are not needed.

    When you want to change the world, we will be here. I hope you do eventually come to your senses, but this experience has so drained me emotionally that I find it extremely difficult to any longer think that there is any hope for you. I still however have some small, tiny little spark of light in the vast darkness that has shrouded Occupy Portland because of the destructive elements.


  12. An Actual Occupier on November 8, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Also, in direct response to a couple other comments..

    Re: Open Letter To Sam Adams (Crash)

    If you honestly think that the Occupy movement is going to become a revolution through show of force you are so naive it’s almost cute. One issue on the ground in Portland is that among those that are there with a care for the actual political meaning of the movement and moment of Occupy Portland there are fundamental differences in opinion on how the ends should/will be achieved. There are those who believe that the system has to be changed from within (as a pragmatist, I count myself among those ranks) and there are those who believe the system is so foundationally broken that it is irreperable and change will only be achieved by burning down the system and building a new one upon it’s ashes.. it’s more the revolutionary line of thought. And the fundamental disconnect between these two beliefs is such that Occupy only has room for one. And I think if you look at the movement as a whole, from city to city and country to country it is not a model for revolution. It is a model for change.

    Re: Anonymous

    It is clear that you don’t necessarily seek a sustainable, semipermenant protest where actions are taken, plans are made, and change is eventually brought through means we haven’t necessarily worked out yet. Yes, yes I am aware of the all too common argument that Occupy is a Rebel Without A Cause of a political movement so to speak. It was concocted with the very idea that it is a broad and general protest with no specific demands as an essential element of what makes Occupy unique. Thusly Occupy can be all things to all people, and still always be bringing attention to the economic inequalities in our society. It seems you specifically want a violent police action to occur so you can feel righteous and justified in your views. I have seen this attitude a lot in the Occupy Portland camp, and it disturbs me to no small degree. It seems there are elements who.. when the inevitable occurs and we are swept out of Lownsdale and Chapman squares.. there are people who will try their very best to instigate an excessive police response so they can cry oppression and with any luck get a ground swell of public support that would lead to re-occupation such as happened in Oakland. However if you are clearly attempting to instigate such a response.. even if it occurs, which I highly doubt seeing the current police rules of engagement and the fact that all arrests so far have been relatively peaceful, it will be obvious to those watching from home.. the same people you are hoping to swell from the ground and push the movement into new and more powerful places with more numbers then ever before instead will see a group of people who were actively antagonizing police and doing everything they could to elicit or even necessitate a violent response. And that public will have no sympathy for you, will not join at your back when you try to initiate the continuity of operation protocols that are currently being developed.. they will see some arrogant kids who tried to pick a fight with the police and got it. Do not attempt to play the violence game with the United States Government, they are better at it then you, and you will lose.

  13. RisePDX on November 8, 2011 at 10:56 am

    These problems existed pre-occupy. Many of these people have been ejected from their services due to budget cuts. Many of these people were doing this on the waterfront and in saturday market. Occupy is what they consider a “safe haven” for them to get food/care. They have been ejected by society. Drug use etc happens city, country, worldwide. In fact RX abuse is horrific and that is via Doctors and the “SYSTEM”. It is time to continue to shine a light on our Society’s failings. We are asking the city to help and are offering solutions towards these ends. If the city wants to sweep us and the homeless/mentally ill/ and addicted population under the rug again, then we can clearly see why we have a problem today. NEWSFLASH: More budget cuts are coming and these problems will get worse. I would encourage the mayor to clear the entire city of drug use and violence if he is intent on clearing our camp. Our camp is not the substance abusers. Our camp is there to provide compassion, light in dark corners, and care for them. We have already learned of all the issues, homeless gangs, and lack of city services to help these unfortunate members of our society. I hope that we can continue the dialogue. Continue to solve problems and not sweep them under the rug. I could go on, but this is my basic point/plea to officials and care providers across our city. lets start helping people. help not harm. Remember this simple yet key phrase. “Help NOT Harm”

    Thank you,
    Livestream Facilitator

  14. Zella on November 8, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Let’s talk realistically. Occupy has problems that need to be addressed. It is working on addressing them. Outside intervention by authorities will likely make this process ineffective and may actually lead to more violence.
    Does occupy need to shut down for being a “haven” to illegal activity? No more than the seedy motels on the outskirts of Portland do.
    Please speak plainly, Mr. Mayor. If you’re going to set a deadline, then do so. If not, please have the patience to let the campers work out their problems themselves. They are not fools or too proud to ask for help if the situation gets out of control. If it turns out that they can’t deal with things among themselves, I’m sure you will be one of the first to know. Thank you.

  15. J.k.b. on November 8, 2011 at 11:52 am

    what is your point? Yes, it would seem to me that someone who is so, truly highly educated like yourself, having a masters and all, and the oh so incredible ability to judge others, to be objective in a situation. But yet, you come and judge and trash people for trying. That is a pretty uneducated and frankly highly immature way to act. “Education”, weather from schooling or life, is a resource, to use it as a way to show others their social inadequacies is not only silly and childish, but its taking away from the point of you getting that education in the first place. If you want people to know something, go tell them directly, don’t waste your or other peoples’ time and energy talking about “left-wing conditioning.” You are just as conditioned, if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be trashing anyone, and if you were cool, you would join us, but I guess your too cool for school.

    And btw, the drug-use and violence, yes, needs to be dealt with, but those crimes are not even close to the crimes being committed on the floor of congress, on the soil of pillaged countries and even on our own; those crimes are crimes against the whole existence, doing drugs isn’t as bad if you ask me. W

    • J.k.b. on November 8, 2011 at 11:54 am

      that was to eric.

    • M on November 8, 2011 at 10:14 pm


  16. Cedar on November 8, 2011 at 11:53 am

    To Mayor Sam Adams:

    We at OccupyPortland recognize there has been an issue with drug and alcohol use, violent behavior and other problems and we are resolved to continue to work on this challenge to bring it to an end. When we started OccupyPortland, we did not realize that we would soon have a large influx of homeless people come into our camp at Chapman and Lownsdale Squares due to the high number of people already living on the streets of Portland prior to Occupy.

    Yes, in OccupyVancouver, B.C., there has been a death in their camp of a 20 year old woman, which is a suspected drug overdose. Regardless of where the camp is, or if it even ceases to exist, it is just logistics of where anyone dies of a drug overdose. There was also a man in OccupyVancouver, B.C. named “Tyler” who had a drug overdose but OccupyVancouver people recognized there was an emergency and got him help. If he had not been in camp, he very well could have died alone somewhere else. Some people in the VancouverOccupy, B.C. have also decided to quit using drugs and alcohol since they joined the group, as now that they have new hope of a better life.

    We are getting alot of the homeless as 22% were sent into Portland after the mental hospitals were closed down. 30% of the homeless have substance abuse problems, and 58% of the homeless reported having trouble getting enough food to eat. With up to 60% of the normal donations sent to soup kitchens and homeless shelters in Portland down below average, it is said those same kitchens and shelter are sending the homeless to OccupyPortland to add to the influx. The homeless are staying at or near the camp due to 3-4 meals served a day, the sense of community and for the safety as homeless people are at high risk of becoming a victim while living on the streets.

    As you are probably already aware, 12% of the homeless population identified themselves as military veterans this year, and 35% of homeless women said they had experienced domestic violence. They obviously have nowhere else to go and we are trying to be sensitive to their needs, find a happy medium for all between Occupy, the City of Portland and the homeless and not fail the homeless as other systems have done to them in the past.

    Daily we are indeed evolving as a group and it will take time to get there, but we do hear your concern and want to reassure you we are working on solutions as quickly as we can.

    Looking forward to working with the whole community of Portland, including keeping up our good will with each other at City Hall.

    The 99%

    P.S. My sources of the stats were from the “The Institution of Housing in 2005”, “”, “Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Who is homeless?”, and “The Hunger and Homelessness Survey – U.S. Conference of Mayors 2008”.

  17. Marla on November 8, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Would someone please point me where I need to go in order to actually help make the changes necessary to make our movement go forward in a positive manner?

  18. Eddie on November 8, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I am not a native oregonian, or even a north-westerner, but one thing i have noticed is that Mr. Adams is probably one of the best mayors i have ever seen in the nation. He actually allowed OPDX to happen and most would have shut you down in less than 48 hrs. Now all you people are doing is talking a bunch of crap about him when he is trying to find peaceful ways to help. So let us work together and make this work we can do and we need all the help we can get. The drugs, prostitution and all that jazz needs to be nipped in the butt, I myself thank you Mayor Adams and am willing to help you out as much as it is needed to get rid of the riff raff and problems we are having there.

    • Anonymous on November 8, 2011 at 11:50 pm

      Not true. The only reason the mayor allowed the occupation to continue is because we had massive public support. 10,000 people showed up to the opening march, one of the largest turnouts in Portland history.

      The Mayor has been repeatedly hostile to the occupation, first creating artificial deadlines for Main Street at the behest of Standard Insurance, and using force to clear it rather than respecting the GA process. He has also refused to allow the occupation to expand, which would be a clear solution to some of the problems the camp faces, ordering the arrests of people at Jamison Square and Terry Schrunk. He has repeated police lies about the march last Wednesday, and is trying to promote fear mongering in order to alienate the occupation so he can shut it down. He is no friend of Occupy Portland.

  19. taiganaut on November 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Here’s a URL to that HIGHLY RECOMMENDED post entitled “Occupy’s Asshole Problem: Flashbacks From An Old Hippie”

    This is really essential reading. I know it was posted below, but I wanted to drop the URL so people can share easily.

    By the way, to some of the more militant responders below, using inflammatory language in response to this open letter is a 100% useless response. The mayor is pointing out problems which need to be rapidly addressed — and core volunteers and GA are working on it, quite likely without your help at present or you wouldn’t be posting such dreck. Tone down the rhetoric and try to help out with problems that do need to be addressed.

  20. Ogre on November 8, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    yes – Sam adams is a clever enough politicians. I don’t want to call him machiavellian, but I suspect that the police chief and the mayor have been influencing the TV stations and the Oregonian to publish stories about a series of embarrassing crimes or incidents near the camps this week. – this would include the guy arrested for the hammer attack, some shaming about the toilets and trash dumpster, this thing today about bicycle shop thefts, the pimp in one of the tents, the article claiming some people threatened the Pizza Schmizza clerk for running out of crazy bread. It is very psychologically effective at making someone embarrassed to admit that they are involved with Occupy Portland, and I bet Sam Adams could tactically be involved in the media war by forwarding police press releases to the media… and soon enough the activists will give up, leave the park, and do something more useful such as seizing abandoned foreclosed houses for the homeless or something. It is also a very easy tactic for Adams to take

    • Hello! on November 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm

      You post has just made me aware of a number of incidents of concern:

      “the hammer attack, some shaming about the toilets and trash dumpster, this thing today about bicycle shop thefts, the pimp in one of the tents, the article claiming some people threatened the Pizza Schmizza clerk for running out of crazy bread.”

      Mayor Adams need not bother with airing dirty laundry, because you have that job covered, Ogre.

  21. Mary on November 8, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Thank you for printing Sara Robinson’s piece. Yes, OP…..set clear boundaries to match your clear goals.

  22. Teresa @PDXsays Boze on November 9, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Hi Sam and Fellow Occupiers (be that Virtual or on the ground),

    When Sam says that in his opinion as Mayor of Portland that the City is OK with the #OP where it is, and that their position is based on “discretion,” has any of you *ever* asked, “Sam, what do you mean by ‘discretion’”?


    What if it means, “I want what you want. Things suck. Let’s change. I know you folks at OP have potential to do that in a nonviolent and effective way. I have to make decisions. I can only work with this half-broken toy they call a Democratic government, and a Commission-based one at that.

    What I am saying by the word discretion is that have to make decisions based on the best case to keep this City vital and growing. I need your help to move this antiquated behemoth towards something resembling reality. Make the case for me, and I can make anything stick to that Commission-based form of government wall. I am not running again. I am free to do right by the City and these ideals we both agree on, by the rules I chose to live with – just as you chose yours.

    Make the case OP. Bring it to me. The reasons I need that are ones you can support with the resources at your finger tips.

    Build the bridge of facts and actions based on the decisions and rules from the City itself out of the policy and laws, the Council previous decisions, et al * ALL AVAILABLE ONLINE* at as part of the open government | open data efforts that were hard won in the last four years.

    Make us the City say yes to what we already said we say yes to.

    If the Council said this or that, and the Portland Plan or other accepted finding that say this or that, bring that to me. Heck, I can even use national policy as preempting, as this is a national movement. How many time do I need to implement that for you guys to see it?

    Base the case, people. I am looking for every opportunity to make the change while I still sit in this cold-hearted hot seat. I need you to help me effect from here.

    And Sam, did it ever occur to you that 1) the OP liaise to your office do not understand in plain English what processes they can leverage? 2) that a mutual education on processes between groups needs to occur? A fast, down on the ground real one. Because we don’t have time for a scientific, Council endorsed study.

    Amanda Fritz came down to Schrunk Plaza a couple weeks ago with the best of motivation, but unadvised of intentions. She tried to compare the Movement to her foot-loose youth period. Everything but the “walked 10 miles to school” chestnut. It was centered on her and what she had to do as a Commissioner as she thought it would relate to youth in the OP. She was not there to discover and explore common ground, to find out anything about these curious furry mammals that were taking the niche of the fossil fuel dinosaurs.

    As a result, her message came of as ,” Leave, and go get volunteer jobs in established NGO’s.”

    Sam, you championed or moved obstacles for the Portland Plan process, the technology business development strategy, the revising of the PPB, open government and open access | source, plentiful and cheap broadband, a sustainable and localized Community model, and so many other things aligned with the call for change worldwide. Help us understand how to help you get help us get through.

    These things are true for All: Nothing wants to suffer. Everyone wants only to be happy. Everything wants to be connected. No exceptions.

    • satori on November 9, 2011 at 9:47 am

      Brilliant! As stated previously, Sam is a free agent now, a dedicated public servant who is committed to PDX. He knows how things work and he knows what’s broken. This man can help,in fact he is helping, don’t waste the opportunity.
      The city of PDX can be an example/microcosm of fixing what’s broken. 1. benefits for employers with profit sharing programs for ALL employees AND free-lance/contracted and FTE.
      2. benefits for employers with medical and dental plans 3. benefits for employers who are green 3. start a national convention in PDX! 4. promotion and benefits for community banks and credit unions 5. more housing and services for homeless and jobless 6. local WPA type jobs program funded by bonds/taxes of households w incomes of 555K or higher 7. foreclosure relief funded by bonds/taxes of households w/incomes of 555k or higher.

      Let’s show the USA how it’s done!

      Blessings and Enlightenment