City officials, most notably Mayor Vera Katz and Deputy City Attorney David Woboril, rewrote portions of the rule without public input and the police began strong-arm enforcement of the new provisions on Wednesday morning, starting with the physical removal of the Portland Peace Encampment that has occupied sidewalk space across the street from City Hall since March 20. Police have been enforcing the new rules aggressively in other parts of the downtown core as well, alarming many victims and obervers with their tactics.
After being forced to leave the sidewalk or be arrested, peace campers briefly moved to a park one block down 4th Avenue before regrouping directly in front of City Hall. At least one police officer, and frequently several more, has been permanently stationed there since Wednesday to observe the campers and collect notes on their supporters. Several campers slept on the patio of City Hall Wednesday night, but were prevented from doing so by police overnight Thursday.
'Clearly this targets the homeless, mentally ill, street kids and protestors,' National Lawyers Guild attorney Alan Graf wrote in a Thursday email announcing Friday's Sit-In, referring to the Sit-Lie rule. Graf wrote that he would sit down in front of City Hall at 12pm Friday and invited everyone opposed to the law to join. 'I am prepared to get arrested. We can't take this "standing up"', he wrote.
The caller from the sit-in currently taking place there said that City Attorney Woboril has called the protest an 'expressive event', meaning under the new rules that the protest has a limit of 8 hours before police can be unleashed on those demonstrating for the repeal of the sit-lie rule. The protest is expected to grow throughout the afternoon as word makes its way around the city. The Portland Peaceful Response Coalition, or PPRC, will hold its regular 5pm march from Pioneer Square, likely pausing at City Hall in solidarity with the protest taking place there.