Friday November 24th was International Buy Nothing Day. In Portland, those who remained in the busy downtown shopping district were able make their voices heard and peacefully assemble. Those whose chose to target the more off-the-beaten-track Lloyd Center faced heavy police intervention.
It has become evident that when demonstrators are surrounded by happy shoppers, the police are less likely to intervene. They don't want the shoppers to have a negative impression of the Portland Police force and they especially don't want a shopper to become upset, lest it interfere with his or her desire to continue shopping.
Out at Lloyd Center, it appeared that the plan of the police force was to cite or arrest protesters before they could even assemble. A small group of about 15 people gathered on the sidewalk next to the parking lot east of Holladay Park. Many others attempting to join those on the sidewalk were deterred by police. Cyclists were cited for riding on the sidewalk through the park and failing to signal their turns. Two cyclists were detained for 40 minutes.
Several officers approached the group on the sidewalk. After inquiring how everyone was doing that day, they informed the group that there had been a fatality in the downtown area. As a result, the police were not allowing people to block the sidewalks. Though the connection between the fatality and blocking sidewalks was not explained, Buy Nothing Day demonstrators situated in other areas of Portland later elaborated that the fatality was a pedestrian who, unable to get through the mass of people on the sidewalk, stepped into the street and was struck down by an automobile.
One of the Lloyd Center demonstrators attempted to get more information from the police as to why the group was being forced to disperse. He was informed that another woman in the group who was walking away had understood and that he should go ask her. When he continued to seek information from the police, he was asked for identification. He stated that he did not have identification and was not required to carry identification. The officers asked the demonstrator to step aside and stated they were going to arrest him on charges of Failure to Present. He lay down on the ground and the police rolled him to his stomach, handcuffed his arms behind his back, and carried him to the squad car.
The rest of the group moved on to the north east corner of the park. They held signs and distributed literature to passers-by. Some of the demonstrators engaged people in conversations. Some of the shoppers were receptive, many were not. Demonstrators shouted encouraging phrases to the shoppers about there being no need to give in to over-consumption. Though the group was not large, they held bold signs and stated their message clearly.
The police watched from a far and later moved on foot to the grassy area near the demonstrators. They continually informed the demonstrators that they needed to move to the side and not block the wide sidewalk from pedestrians.
Lloyd Center security stood on the sidewalk across the street from the demonstrators by the parking garage. The head of security stated that the mall had a police of zero tolerance for Friday November 24 th towards anyone wearing buttons. Many people with buttons were observed entering the building, but only those with an activist agenda were asked to leave. One woman removed her Buy Nothing Day button to use the washroom and received a criminal trespass warning.
Many of the demonstrators were in good spirits and some were dressed in costume. As activity began to die down, a handful started a game of soccer in the park, citations against non citations.
This evening, a dispatcher at the Portland police's 503-760-6911 non-emergency line searched for information about the fatality. After exhausting the options to which she had access and speaking with her supervisors, she stated that there was no information about a fatality. Though the search is not a guarantee that a fatality did not occur, it is a very good indication.