From Amy Ruiz at the Portland Mercury, May 10, 2008

I’m at city hall, checking in on the homeless protest following this morning’s statement from Mayor Tom Potter.

When I arrived a few minutes ago, I saw this:

The protesters have been pushed to the curb side of the sidewalk. And these signs have been posted along the balustrade, where the protesters had been set up:

That notice indicates that this protest has been declared an illegal campground, which will be “removed on May 13th 2008.” No one is quite sure what this means, but the police have told them to move to the curb side, and to stay within two feet of their personal belongings. (The cops have been by three times this morning, says one protester.)

“What they’re saying right now is that you can’t be two feet away from your stuff. That means you can’t go to the bathroom without your stuff, you can’t go to a job interview without your stuff. You can’t go to a restaurant without your stuff,” says Duane Reynolds, who’s been homeless for “25 years off and on.” He continues: “So mainly, you cannot do anything with carrying your stuff wherever you go. You cannot step five feet away from your stuff. That means you’re stuck on the street, because most places won’t let you bring in your stuff.”

The protesters have complied, and there’s a rumor circulating that the cops will be back any minute to confiscate unclaimed belongings—i.e., the stuff that hasn’t been moved to the curb side, and isn’t within two feet of an owner.

Larry Reynolds, one of the protesters’ main organizers, talked to me about it. Listen to him here.

It’s very unclear what might happen on Tuesday night, given that protesters have already been moved—”harassed,” as Reynolds put it—and are under new rules. Will the police, under the mayor’s orders, clear it out entirely? Potter’s public policy adviser Maria Rubio already answered our “will there be a sweep that night” question with a non-answer, saying the city hopes the protesters “keep things orderly and safe for everyone.” From what I see, this sidewalk is orderly, and—given how many people are here, looking out for each other—about the safest one in the city at the moment.

One last thing. City Hall is supposed to serve as a 24-hour restroom until other facilities are built—Potter’s idea, originally. Apparently that’s 24-hours, unless there’s a protest happening outside on a Saturday that Potter isn’t too happy about, because this sign went up:

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