How completely empty could your life have been if camping out with a bunch of freaks actually brought meaning to you?
Two weeks after they were routed from Chapman and Lownsdale squares, Occupy Portland protesters staked a new camp in the South Park Blocks Saturday afternoon.
“Guess what?” shouted Jordan Ladoux, a spokesman for Occupy Portland. “We have a park!”
The crowd before him hollered.
Protesters had set the stage for another confrontation with the city and its police force a day earlier when they issued a statement announcing that Portland’s Occupy movement would take another park. Portland Mayor Sam Adams issued his own statement in response, saying “We simply cannot afford another encampment in our city.”
Protesters, however, remained unconvinced Saturday afternoon as they converged at the waterfront’s Salmon Street fountain for a rally before marching to their new campsite. Ladoux dismissed what the mayor said, saying police salaries and park cleanup costs are small potatoes compared with the cash banks had wasted.
For more than an hour protesters took to a megaphone to share why they’d come out to the waterfront on a cold, but dry December morning.
“The top 400 people in the U.S. are disrupting the rest of us,” said one protester.
“My life was completely, radically changed by Occupy,” said another.
At about 3:30 p.m., the protesters left the fountain and worked their way through downtown Portland. Bicyclists took the lead, blocking off streets to let the nearly 500 marchers through, while making way for buses and MAX trains.
Gervaise Dupree of Lake Oswego was on her way to a Cirque du Soleil performance when the marchers streamed past her. She started chanting with the crowd, pumping her fist in the air.
“I’m too old to do this,” Dupree, 76, said. “But it’s time to speak out. I support them 100 percent so long as its peaceful.”