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Occupy Portland to mayor: Leave? This is so sudden

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Occupy Portland demonstrators said Thursday they were surprised by the Oregon city mayor’s order that they vacate two downtown parks by midnight Saturday or face arrest.

Mayor Sam Adams said at a news conference Thursday that the encampment had become dangerous, a health hazard and a haven for criminals. If protesters don’t leave, they’ll be arrested, he warned.

The demonstrators were made aware of the mayor’s concerns earlier in the week and had taken steps to address them, said Occupy Portland spokesman Jordan LeDoux. They were under the impression the city would work with them through the process.

PHOTOS: Occupy protests around the nation

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“The city moved very quickly to this position that time was up,” he said.

During a meeting Thursday, demonstrators discussed several potential responses to the Saturday deadline, some of which included staying put. The group has not yet completed a plan of action, LeDoux said.

“A lot of people understood the things that the city was talking about, but felt compelled to stay,” he said. “That wasn’t a decision, but there were a lot of people who expressed that sentiment.”

FULL COVERAGE: Occupy protests around the nation

Regardless of what demonstrators decide, LeDoux said, some will probably remain in the park past the deadline.

At his news conference, the mayor said the turning point in his decision to force demonstrators to dismantle the encampment was the arrest of an Occupy Portland demonstrator accused of setting off a Molotov cocktail outside an office building and two nonfatal drug overdoses in the camp.

Similar problems have been reported around the country. A 35-year-old man was reportedly shot Thursday at an Occupy camp in Vermont.

Other Occupy demonstrations have elicited official frustration as well. The Atlanta demonstration was forced to move from its original meeting spot, and the Seattle protest has had to give up tents.

In Denver, protesters were relegated to sidewalks that line the grounds of a downtown park at night to adhere to curfew laws. No standing structures are allowed on sidewalks, so protesters were forced to brave snowy nights without tents.

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-- Stephen Ceasar


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