Inevitably, coverage of the occupations' shutdowns has included references to human waste. Most city parks aren't campgrounds and don't have big restroom blocks with high-capacity toilets. While some protesters have advocated for building dry toilets, their suggestions seem unrealistic on sites where you can't dig down or compost waste on a large scale.
City officials shut down the two restrooms next to Occupy Portland after the jump in use made the bathrooms unusable. Labor unions then rented the movement some Porta-Potties (Honey Buckets, to be precise). Over the past week or so, rumors have swirled about Honey Bucket vandalism and about a few Occupiers using the ground next to the Buckets instead of the Buckets themselves. On November 8, the city served the movement a list of code violations, including "Human waste and waste material (used toilet paper and plastic containers containing urine) around the portable restrooms."
But here's the thing: no one's talking about the fact that piles of feces pose a huge problem in cities all over the world, all the time. While the city of Portland shut down the Occupy camp, it didn't simultaneously take steps to change the reality that if you walk through downtown Portland early in the morning, you're going to see piles of human feces. The city has added a few 24-hour public restrooms in the past few years--which has certainly helped--but you can't escape the fact that if a public restroom is closed, or too disgusting to use, people are going to use doorways. That has nothing to do with Occupying anything.
This past summer, my honey and I wanted to camp along the Chetco River in Southwestern Oregon. Fans of primitive camping, we searched up and down the river for a secluded spot. All the quiet, beautiful spots had been used. Everywhere we tried to set up the tent, we had to bag it because of piles of poop and toilet paper. As far as I know, that was no Occupy Chetco River; human waste out in the open is just a bizarre and irrational fact of human behavior. In comparison, the Occupy Portland camp looked pretty clean.
Did Occupy Portland's piles of toilet paper pose a threat? I don't know. It seems to me that governments have the responsibility to protect people, even from the contents of their friends' intestinal tracts. But until the city decides to close down the downtown doorways people use as restrooms every morning, I call this particular justification for shutting down the camps just a little bit foul.