With the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Portland protests being the talk of the news, Kerri and I decided to go downtown Portland to see what the fuss was all about. And of course, we came armed with cameras.
We showed up at the camp, which consists of two full city blocks of public park space, and immediately noticed the perimeter of anti-corporate and anti-government signs surrounding the encampment of tents, which is reported to house 500 protesters. I pulled out my camera and took a photo of the city of tents and was immediately confronted by a young woman upset that I was taking photos. I found it ironic that they are there under their First Amendment rights, yet, they want to censor my First Amendment right? I argued this point with her, and she started screaming how would I feel if she took photos of my house. I responded that I have no problem with that as long as it was from the street. She continued screaming at me, so I shot her! I pointed my camera at her and took her photo, which caused her to raise her hand to cover her face and made her quickly back away. Jason 1, Protesters 0.
We continued wandering through the camp with its strong smells of body odor, marijuana smoke, and raw sewage while I took more photos. The camp had a really bad vibe to it, and several of the people there looked like they might have slit my throat if I had tried to take their photo, so I obviously refrained. Kerri initially had her camera out, but quickly put it away as she did not feel comfortable taking photos there and later admitted that she actually feared for my safety. Yes, the vibe was that bad! Another young woman approached me to ask that I stop taking photos, but before she could even finish her sentence I shot her! Jason 2, protesters 0.
While I won’t discuss my political views of the Occupy movement, I will state, based on my observations, that the Occupy Portland camp is more of a homeless camp than a protest. Whatever good intentions the Occupy Portland movement initially had have been tarnished by what it has become. Every day the local news media discusses the sanitation, mental health, and drug abuse issues occurring at the camp. The protest has become a hot political topic, but not about what the Occupy movement is trying to get across. The discussions are over the $209,000 (and rising) in police overtime, the $19,000 estimate in taxpayer money to repair the two parks that they have overtaken, and why the City is allowing these people to break the law by allowing them to get away with camping in the park and having parades without a permit. I feel that in the end, Portland’s Occupy movement will just be a giant social experiment that failed. It will not be remembered for creating change, just creating a mess.
If you would like to see the photos of the Occupy Portland camp, check out our Flickr Photos here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjwzmjJD