[this post is from May 25, 2008; date changed to keep the post real visible]
These are clips from a longer article and chronology about the scene in Portland, abusive policies against houseless folks… It all sounds very similar wherever you go. Public is Private, Businesses are “the Community”, Sleeping Outdoors is only to be done On Vacation, It’s Not Illegal to BE Houseless, Only to DO ANYTHING if you’re Houseless…
…”If nothing else, the weeks-long Homeless Liberation Front protest –which calls for the suspension of Portland’s camping and sidewalk obstruction ordinances – has dragged the debate on homelessness out of the city’s bureaucratic offices and onto the street.
The protest, at first an impromptu showing of five people displaced from under the Burnside Bridge by April’s campsite sweeps, swelled to include more than 100 homeless people and supporters. Their tarps,blankets and protest signs (“Housing is a human right”; “This is a protest, not a camp”)
lined the edge of the sidewalk in front of CityHall.
As the group grew, its organizers worked to maintain order. They formed trash brigades to keep the site clean and assigned security details to watch for theft and drug use. Several protesters were prone to seizures, so lookouts ran to warn them if sirens and lights approached….”
….On May 8, Sisters of the Road announced its withdrawal from the mayor’s Street Access For Everyone work group, which developed the sit-lie ordinance in coordination with plans for new park benches,public restrooms and a homeless day access center. But Sisters’s Associate Director Michael
Buonocore said in a statement that those services “have not been implemented in a timely and adequate manner,”and the sit-lie ordinance has been predominantly enforced against homeless people.
“The sit-lie ordinance has amplified the tragedy of the existing anti-camping ordinance, which also criminalizes those who have nowhereto sleep at night,” Buonocore said. “Between these two laws, it
is effectively illegal to be homeless in Portland.”….
“I’m houseless, not homeless,” Duane Reynolds, one of the loudest protesters, explained to an inquisitive bystander on May 12. “Portland is my home.”
His account of the Burnside Bridge sweep differs from Reese’s [mayor]. He says that while he was in church on April 21, five days before the posted notice said the camp needed to be cleared, his belongings were confiscated by police.
When he tried to reclaim them, he said, he was ping-ponged between the Police Bureau and Parks and Recreation, each of which told him to check with the other. No one had his things.
“That was the final straw to get me here,” he said.
Larry Reynolds, Duane’s older brother, had been camping under the Hawthorne Bridge when he heard by word of mouth that people on the streets were starting to organize themselves. He joined the protest three days in, and he was eventually elected as a spokesperson. He was one of a few
individuals to meet privately with Mayor Potter.
He left the first meeting frustrated that Mayor Potter would not repeal the ordinances, instead deferring to the 10-year plan as evidence that progress was being made.
“Do you know how tired we are?” he said that day. “You can’t sit here, you can’t stand here, you can’t lie here. You can’t cover up, you can’t sleep. You can’t get any rest. We’re midnight nomads, walking around with all our gear on our back, being told that we can’t sleep.”…
Read More…in Street Roots