EUGENE, Ore. - Minutes before the Eugene City Council convened a special meeting to discuss the Occupy Eugene camp, the protest put out an e-mail to supporters saying "police are setting the stage for a very ugly conflict that can so easily be avoided."
"It appears likely that the Eugene City Council will remove the camping exemption and give OE a short period before forcibly clearing the occupation site," the message from organizer Jamil Jonna reads.
The message includes a number of other "talking points" from Occupy Eugene, quoted verbatim below:
- The very excessive lighting and heavy physical presence of police officers that they’ve just imposed has turned the site into something that now looks like a prison yard. This is creating a very hostile environment and it is simple unnecessary.
- The police have overreacted to real events (few of which have been of any significance) and repeatedly overemphasized their severity to the public. Therefore OE is concerned that the repeated overemphasis on the unsubstantiated potential for violence is causing the officers who come on site to be more worried about their safety than they need to be.
- The predictable result is that they will overreact to any conflict that may arise.
- Occupy Eugene has worked very hard to avoid this and has been consistently successful in managing the conflicts that arise on site.
- The police are making it harder and harder for us to continue with that success.
- It seems clear from the upbraiding to the mayor offered in the [Eugene Police Employment Association's Memorandum] letter and its conspicuous recognition of Poling, Clark and Farr that it is at least partially politically-motivated.
- The recent posture of EPD represents a betrayal of the collaborative relationship established between OE and the City
- The egregious nature of this move should be apparent: please ask them to keep the no camping exemption in place—and instead extend it!!
- EPD has made a tactical decision to “occupy the occupation.” While the Occupy Eugene site had been the furthest thing imaginable from a military occupation, it is quite clear that EPD presence has transformed the protest site into the latter.
- Right now EPD is engaging in psychological warfare against occupiers, reinforcing the apparently well-justified belief among the unhoused that brute force would be the response before too long. For the unhoused, as well as direct action protesters, this is unfortunately the lesson learned based on past experience with EPD.
- Jamil indicated in a December 12th (2011) meeting with Lieutenant’s Kamkar and Bills (and Lauren Regan) that the original EPD report on Occupy Eugene only served to undermine the positive relationship between protestors and the EPD. Jamil suggested that there was a possibility that EPD might avoid the highly negative, yet typical response EPD has had to protesters (as well as the unhoused) in the past. By undermining the relationship that OE attempted to build, EPD only increased the likelihood that protestors would tend to favor a much more combative non-violent response to any potential eviction order.
- Despite all the lip service by the City of Eugene about the innovative features of the occupation site—it’s strong community support; explosive growth; unique mixture of democracy, protest and service; strong advocacy and integration of the alarming number of unhoused in Eugene; and openness and willingness to work with city officials—the City Council appears poised to respond in the same violent way as so many other cities. The only difference is that the City of Eugene said it wanted to be different—“innovative,” in the words of Lieutenant Sam Kamkar. Sadly, the City Council appears to think that enormous police expenditure (alongside a relatively paltry amount for social services) is “innovative.”