PORTLAND – An Occupy Wall Street protest in Oakland, Calif., that turned violent and led to arrests Thursday can only harm peaceful movements like the one that has become entrenched in Portland’s Lincoln Park, members of the Occupy Maine movement said.

“Violence is the furthest thing from our minds right now. There are no plans to be violent. Hopefully, that is the way it will stay,” said Alan Porter, a 45-year-old Portland man who has been an active participant in the Occupy Maine protest since it began several weeks ago. “We are all dedicated to a common cause: a change to the system.”

Shane Blodgett, 21, of Augusta said the violence in California can only hurt Occupy Wall Street’s cause. The worldwide movement, including the one in Maine, challenges the world’s economic systems and unequal distribution of wealth.

“It’s very upsetting to see that the people we are fighting for are fighting against us,” Blodgett said, referring to the Oakland protesters, who allegedly threw lighted roman candles and chunks of concrete and metal pipes at police.

Blodgett said he doubts there will be violence in Portland. And he expects the camp will remain into the winter despite the snow and cold.

“I’m going to stay here, regardless of how cold it gets. I would have to be frozen to the ground before they can move me,” Blodgett said.

Over the past month or so, Occupy Maine’s Portland encampment at Lincoln Park has grown to about 35 tents. The original protest began in Monument Square but moved to the park, which is in front of the Cumberland County courthouse, after the city asked protesters to relocate.

Dozens of supporters and protesters come and go throughout the day, and 50 or so actually spend the night.

The camp has changed significantly since it first moved to Lincoln Park.

In addition to getting bigger, there is now a spirituality room — a geodesic dome where people can go to reflect or meditate — as well as a kitchen stocked with all kinds of supplies, and a shelter marked “library” where protesters can go to read books or play board games.

After last weekend’s unseasonal snow storm, organizers decided to bring in a wilderness emergency medical technician to help them prepare for cold weather.

Members of Occupy Maine gathered Thursday night in the park to discuss preparations they will need to undertake to make it safely through a Maine winter.

Jake Lowry of Portland, who moderated the discussion, said there seems to be consensus building toward spending the winter in Lincoln Park.

“A lot of us are feeling we could be more effective by ending our physical occupation (of the park),” Lowry said. “But there seems to be a drive to organize and winterize and keep the occupation going.”

Lowry said he doubts Occupy Maine protesters would ever get into a conflict with Portland police, who he says have been pretty tolerant of the encampment off Congress Street.

Lowry said there has been some talk of civil disobedience among members but “nothing really crazy.”

He said a small faction of Occupy protesters who wanted to “treat Portland like New York City” have left Maine. Police have arrested Occupy demonstrators in New York.

Heather Curtis of Portland doesn’t sleep in the park because she has children at home to care for. She views the encampment as a place where she can go to express her views and find companionship among like-minded people.

She reacted negatively to the violence in Oakland.

“Whoever is being violent is not committed to the Occupy movement. Being nonviolent is one of our central tenets,” said Curtis, who is self-employed.

John Schreiber, a baker from Portland who is involved with the Occupy Maine movement, said, “I hope it (violence) doesn’t happen here. So far things have been relatively peaceful.

“Part of our message is people can work together,” he said. “We don’t need to be violent to get our message across.”

As darkness began to descend on the camp, Nickie Sekera of Fryeburg sipped on a cup of coffee as she kept a watchful eye on the tents and shelters that will provide warmth on a cold night.

Sekera is an wilderness EMT who works for Solo Wilderness Medicine in Conway, N.H.

She has been training Occupy Maine members on how to spot and treat frostbite or hypothermia.

Though she is sympathetic to their cause, Sekera said, “Medicine is not political. It’s about keeping these people safe.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]