Eugene council tells police to disband Occupy camp

EUGENE — City officials told Occupy Eugene on Tuesday to disband as soon as possible after a night of fighting in the downtown encampment that has become a magnet for people on the street.

The Eugene City Council voted 5-2 at a midday meeting to direct city officials to break up the camp.

Police said officers and Occupy Eugene organizers were negotiating, but some members of the camp of about 150 people said they would not leave voluntarily, the Eugene Register-Guard reported.

Five fights were reported Monday night, including one that sent a 54-year-old man to the hospital with serious injuries, police said. Police didn't release details of the fight.

Occupy Eugene said it started when a man with a heart condition who was "extremely drunk" came into the camp and started a fight with an occupant.

Mayor Kitty Piercy summoned the council to an emergency meeting Tuesday, saying the fighting caused her to think the camp should be broken up before the deadline of Jan. 11 the council set last week.

The camp began in October in the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street protest. It moved several times before settling in Washington-Jefferson park downtown in November. Most of the occupants are homeless.

The council was divided when it set the deadline last week to give the campers more time, reflecting some of the liberal spirit of the city of more than 150,000 near the headwaters of the Willamette River and home to the University of Oregon.

Organizers said the council was trying to hide the problem of homelessness.

"Where are you going to put these people?" asked John McCahill, the camp cook. "There's nowhere for them to go except back on the streets."

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