Due in large part to the fact that he shares most of the views of the protesters, Portland Mayor Sam Adams, who is retiring and won’t be running for re-election, has looked particularly weak in his response to the Occupy Portland movement. After protesters defied City Hall by deciding to camp in two downtown city blocks despite not having a permit to do so, the proper response would have been to begin handing out tickets and, perhaps, arrest some of the more intransigent members in need of RV repair.
Instead, Adams did nothing and in fact held meetings to reach accommodations when protesters refused to cede territory to a group that actually did obtain a proper permit last weekend: a marathon event. The talks were cast in a light that made them seem as grave and important as the Middle East peace accords.
Look, it’s simple: obtain a permit and camp to your heart’s content for that period of time. Defy City Hall, and the city is within its rights to fine, issue tickets, and even arrest, though the latter should be saved for a late-stage last resort method. But writing tickets and issuing fines for each day a protester camps illegally? That would put this thing to a stop both quickly and peacefully.
Mayor Adams’ choice to allow the illegal camping to continue without any response at all, though, exposes the city to legal challenges on their anti-homeless camping regulations, and other applications of the ordinances; it extends well beyond the current situation.