Where We Live: Occupy Portland ‘still ripples’

The movement lasted 39 days in the fall of 2011

The Mounted Patrol Unit of the Portland police pushed back Occupy Portland protesters in November 2011 (File, KOIN 6 News)
The Mounted Patrol Unit of the Portland police pushed back Occupy Portland protesters in November 2011 (File, KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In Portland, a city known for demonstrations and protests, perhaps the biggest one of all happened in the fall of 2011. Occupy Portland took over downtown for more than a month and gained worldwide attention.

The impact the movement had has a lasting impression on where we live.

On Oct. 6, 2011, people, inspired by Occupy Wall Street, income inequality and bank practices affecting the so-called 99%, took to downtown Portland. Ten-thousand people marched on Pioneer Courthouse Square. Tent cities popped up at Champman and Lownsdale Squares before another one at Terry Shrunk Plaza.

Occupiers stayed for 39 days before they were evicted in Nov. 2011. The movement grabbed attention of the nation.

Cameron Whitten was an organizer with Occupy Portland in 2011 (KOIN)

“It’s like the seat of our new democracy,” said filmmaker Michael Moore during a visit to the occupy movement. “Right here — in Portland.”

Cameron Whitten was 20-years old in 2011. He saw the occupy movements in Wall Street and wanted to join. He became an Occupy Portland leader. To this day, he can still point out where his tent and kale garden used to be.

“I really took occupy to be a movement,” Whitten said, “and really a means to share a vision.

“Never before in my lifetime had I seen such a big movement of people.”

The movement, though, came to an end on Nov. 13, 2011. Police evicted the occupiers amidst reports of unsanitary conditions and criminal activity.

“Unfortunately, with Occupy Portland, it felt like once that once that eviction happened, a lot of people felt like it was over,” Whitten said.

Occupy Portland would have more demonstrations, but eventually the movement dissipated. But Whitten says the movement highlighted issues like homelessness and developed future leaders. The movement preceded other movements like Portland’s Resistance and local Black Lives Matter groups.

“And we’re still seeing those ripples to this day,” Whitten said.

KOIN’s coverage of Occupy Portland