Analysis Fix

Occupy Portland Has Anger But Little More

By Talon Bronson
Senior Reporter
PORTLAND, Oregon, U.S.A. – The Occupy Portland camp is running off
the tracks, and no one is to blame more than the occupants.
I arrived at the camp late Friday, just two days before the
encampment’s closure deadline, when all occupiers will be required to leave by
order of Mayor Sam Adams.
I could feel, floating through the air, the incredible
tension rippling through the camp, spurred by the numerous police officers on
And while the cops are to be disliked, every moment I spent
in that camp left me feeling more and more as if, maybe, the policemen’s
behavior was not entirely unwarranted.
I would never defend the opposing side of Occupy – the corrupt
and malicious stand there – but to look upon Occupy Portland is to gaze upon a
center of idealistic virtues marred by its own inherently flawed population.
Talon Bronson/

Occupy Portland camp

What started as a intellectual rally against the status quo,
a scream into the ever-encroaching night, has become a joke of a camping
ground, where all you can smell is the scent of freshly smoked Ganja, and maybe,
the strong whiff of whiskey off an old man’s breath, a old man who you will
inevitably find standing next to you, asking for spare quarters and cigarettes.
It is an occupation of the hopeless and the homeless.
Finding an idealist, an educated man or woman, is difficult.
Wading through a sea of bodies, past tent after tent, listening to the raspy
voices, the incoherent sentences, and at the end you will think, “My God, what
a waste of space.”
These are not the men or women we saw on TV, the college
students protesting their student loans, bringing awareness to our massive
debt, and our failing system of government.
Oh, the anger is still here. But this anger is all-embracing,
a scornful hatred emitted by a mass of people who seem to feel that the entire
world has done them wrong.
None of them raise particular issues, and I’ll bet not one
could sit down and explain exactly how the system has gone awry.
But they can write a sign that reads ‘wall st. = Greed’. Not
much else is to be expected.
The problem with Occupy from the beginning was a lack of
clear direction and nowhere is that problem clearer than in the Portland camps.
While I talked with the various groups I moved among, I
tried to find coherence, but couldn’t. I prayed for even one person to set me
straight, to tell me the purpose of it all, and to explain to me how Occupy was
to help fix it.
But all I ended up with were angry young men and women, with
greasy overalls, and, if I were lucky, anarchy tattoos across their faces.
Enough of my rambling and disappointment, though. I’ll now
let my night at Occupy speak for itself.
Talon Bronson/

Occupy Portland tents and signs

It is an easy night to remember: 11/11/11, when I tiredly trod
into the encampment a little after five o’clock, having just gotten of work,
the rain and the wind doing nothing for my exhausted demeanor.
Behind me stood the Portland Justice Center, as large and
looming as ever, and in front of me what looked to be, from a distance, a
maximum occupancy campground. Take away all the signs, and that’s what it was.
But the signs were like the picket fence of Occupy,
surrounding the outer edges, showcasing the encampment’s many varied messages
to the casual passerby.
In bold lettering, one displayed the catchphrase of the
movement: “We are the 99%.”
Another said, “Medicare for all.”
A third simply asked, “Where is my Social Security?”
The moment I set foot in the camp, I could feel in my gut I
didn’t belong.
Hostility was running high.
Apparently, though the Occupiers had till Sunday by order of
the mayor, the police were trying to shut down the camp early. They were at every
Some occupiers were packing up, shuffling about amongst
their few belongings, looking to get out before any real trouble, but most
stood their ground, in torn shoes and the grubby gear of folks who have spent too
many nights out in the cold.
The first conversation I started, with a young man looking
very much the worse for wear, was met with a snide, “You have three questions.”
Like just about everyone at the camp, he wouldn’t give his
name. There seemed to be an unseen memo delivered to all campers, swearing them
to complete secrecy.
Talon Bronson/

Sign at Occupy Portland

He did, however, have a few choice things to say about the
coming date of expulsion from the parks,
“They want to kick us out, but it’s a fascist system, what
these cops are running, and I’m not leaving. They’re going to have a fight, and
I know some who will bring it to them,” he said.
The fellow used the word ‘fascist’ callously, irrelevantly,
like there was no real point to it. It was more like it was an insult the way
his lips rolled over it.
When I asked him the purpose of Occupy, he gave a one word
answer: Revolution.
“This is a revolution like the sixties. That’s how I see it.
And we’re the John Lennons. You’ve got one question left,” he said.
I let him be, using my last question to ask if I could take
a picture of the sign that hung on his tent.
I took my picture and made my way further into the camp. I
shook him off. He was a bad egg, I was sure, and I just had to keep looking.
Ten minutes after our conversation, he was still standing
stock still where I had met him, eyeing everyone with overt anger.
After I left him, I looked hard. It came to the point where
I would look under the stones laid about the parks, if I thought it would help
me find something worthwhile.
During my search, three people offered to sell me weed. I
was asked for a smoke at least half a dozen times, and I heard two unrelated
stories from two unrelated parties of Occupy teenagers about the psychedelic
trip they had went on at one of the marches not but a week or two ago.
Slowly, I lost steam, and, painfully, interest.
I no longer paid attention to the dirty looks I got as I
asked questions. Expletives were trying to form on my lips, to be spat out at
the numerous people who antagonized my search for a meaning in the camp.
By the end of my long walk through Occupy, I realized that
what I was searching for didn’t exist here.
One of the last people I managed to speak with, another man
who refused to give his real name and demanded that if his words got into print
he be called Glenn Quagmire, was branded with an anarchy symbol and packing up
to leave.
He had gotten out of jail not two weeks earlier, he said,
and wasn’t planning to stay in fear of getting arrested and sent back.
I asked him what he thought Occupy would do, after this
weekend, when the police would shut the camp down, by force, if necessary.
“They’ll fight back, when they try to shut it down,” he
said, seconding an opinion I had now heard too many times to count. “And after
that, we’ll move. It isn’t going to end. This is our right, to occupy. It’s fascist,
what they’re doing.”
Once again, in the span of little over an hour, I held my
tongue, and did not ask this young man if he even knew the definition of the
word fascist. I had heard it so many times, thrown around so loosely, that it
barely even carried weight any longer.
I left the camp a little after six, deflated and angry,
angry for a whole different set of reasons than I had been when Occupy had
started, when I had joined in one of their first marches down Morrison Street,
straight through the center of Portland.
Then, I had felt something for this cause. I still do, I
suppose, if only for the ideals alone.
Now, though, in Portland at least, the people stand in the
way of the ideal, and they stand strong and tall, exercising their free right
of speech without knowing what they want to talk about.
On that first march, there had been a joyous feeling, and
there had been talks! Oh, talks to rival the best you can imagine, coming from
all corners — from men in suits, talking about the country, the Constitution
and where we stand as a nation, to hipsters, for once stepping out of their
fashionable place of irrelevance, to express opinions that you never even knew
they had. That march buzzed.
Now, though, there was a loud noise of anger, but nothing more
than a whisper of protest.
It was a beautiful uprising, but, as far as my eye could
see, it had a fall ugly enough to match it, a fall preceded by drugs, medical
emergencies, violence, arson (a Molotov Cocktail incident), and, coming in
last, the gentle exhausted sputter of ideals that had held on for as long as
they could.
On Sunday the encampments will be removed, and whether
forcibly or not, it will be a sad day.
When the occupiers leave, it will mean that Mayor Sam Adams’
city of Portland will have put its foot down on the biggest act of free speech
I have ever seen.
It will also mean that the Occupiers failed, in their time,
to find anything worthwhile to say.
I still wish the best to all the Occupy camps around the
world. I hope the others retain their ideals and charisma.
Let Portland be your warning: without direction,


  • Great article! It's refreshing to read something about what's really going on there. You did a wonderful job of describing the people there and explaining what they think.

  • You did a great job describing what OCCUPY is protesting. You just realize it because you were too distracted by being judgmental.