Police arrested eight people before dawn Thursday and reopened a downtown Portland street blocked during the past week by protesters supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement.
PORTLAND — Police arrested eight people before dawn Thursday and reopened a downtown Portland street blocked during the past week by protesters supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Officers moved in quickly and traffic was flowing a half-hour later.
Many of the protesters had decided the day before to go along with a request by Mayor Sam Adams to give up the street that divides two downtown parks where a settlement of more than 300 tents and tarps sprang up.
Camping in city parks is illegal, but Adams said there were no plans to break up Occupy Portland.
"We are not moving against the camps," Adams said Thursday in a story by The Oregonian.
He said he and other mayors dealing with such occupations are making "practical day-to-day decisions about keeping the peace, protecting people's legal rights to freedom of expression and at the same time keeping this city and all cities moving."
Adams crossed a street from City Hall to one of the parks on Wednesday afternoon to tell protesters it was time to reopen the street. The closure has disrupted traffic for thousands of people, including riders along several bus lines that were rerouted.
Later in the evening, 88 percent of the participants in a general assembly at the encampment voted to leave the street, protester Jordan LeDoux told KGW-TV.
That was slightly short of the 90 percent consensus the protesters have agreed will be the threshold for decisions. But it accounted for the quiet on Thursday morning as police took away the few people who stayed in the street.
LeDoux said the police action would clear the way for protesters to focus on the object of their protest — the concentration of wealth and power in the country.
Police Lt. Robert King said those arrested would face misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with officers.
"We all feel good we're able to get the city moving again," King said. "We've got thousands of cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians who use this every day to go to work or move through the downtown core."
The stretch of Main Street is a landmark in Portland. In the middle, dividing traffic, is a fountain topped with a statue of an elk, the gift of an early Portland mayor. After the police cleared the street, a "Fight Greed" placard remained in its antlers.
The number of lodgings in the two blocks has more than doubled since a crowd police initially estimated at several thousand marched through downtown on Oct. 6. The protesters have spread straw over much the ground that fall rain was quickly turning to mud and set up stations to provide food and medical supplies.
In Salem, protesters who had been told by state troopers that they couldn't camp at a park next to the state Capitol moved their tents to a parking lot across the street, the Statesman Journal reported.
They planned to spend the night walking through the park, keeping moving to avoid arrest.