Police arrest protesters in Washington, Portland

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 04, 2011 4:09 PM

By Dan Cook

PORTLAND, Ore (Reuters) - Police cracked down on anti-Wall Street protesters in Portland, Oregon over the weekend, arresting 19 people who were trying to occupy a downtown park, police said on Sunday.

Some 300 people had attempted to gather in Shemanski Park, beginning late on Saturday night, and then marched through the city's streets, police said.

Portland police arrested 19 people while dispersing the gathering, including one man who was charged with criminal mischief and trespassing for climbing onto the roof of City Hall, police said.

Protesters, who have been demanding economic justice for average Americans who they say suffer while the government bails out Wall Street firms, have been getting arrested in recent weeks as officials try to disassemble their encampments.

In several cities, officials have cited dangerous health and safety conditions and also the cost of policing the demonstrators.

In Washington DC on Sunday, several people were arrested as police tried to take down a two-story-high wooden structure that had been erected in a downtown park where Occupy DC protesters have been camped for weeks.

"It's been determined that this (structure) is unsafe and illegal," said Lieutenant Robert Glover of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.

Several protesters climbed on top of the structure and chanted: "Give us water, give us food, document what is happening," while a crowd of about 200 people looked on.

Glover said police were not forcing the protesters out of the park. "We are not looking to push this thing further," he said.

There was no immediate word on the exact number of arrests.

More than 300 arrests were made in Los Angeles last week as police cleared an Occupy encampment.

The movement began in a downtown park in New York City, but protesters were cleared from that site two weeks ago.

Oklahoma City protesters got a temporary restraining order from a judge last week to avoid being forcibly ousted.

In Seattle, however, a judge on Friday rejected a bid by activists to block their eviction from a community college, clearing the way for the city to remove them as early as the next few days.

(Additional reporting by Paul Simao, Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by David Bailey)