From Israel Bayer at Street Roots, May 11, 2008

Individuals experiencing homelessness and activists have been camping on City Hall for nearly three-weeks. The group is calling itself the Homeless Liberation Front.

Portland Homeless Liberation Front

The group has ranged from 10 to 70 individuals who have been sleeping on the sidewalk in front of City Hall demanding an end to the anti-camping and sit-lie ordinances. The camping ordinance is used to clear camps out throughout Portland, while the sit-lie ordinance criminalizes sitting or lying on a public sidewalk from 7AM to 7PM.

In late April, a group of individuals were swept from under the Burnside and Morrison bridges in downtown Portland. The group marched to City Hall in the dead on night in defiance of the ordinances.

On Monday, May 5, four individuals from the camp met personally with the Mayor. Protestors demanded an end to the ordinances. The mayor declined. No resolution was reached.

The city has opened more than 100 emergency shelter beds until June in response to the protestors. Both individuals on the streets and homeless advocates say that’s not enough.

On Saturday, May 10, seven individuals were arrested – six for interfering with a police officer and one for resisting arrest.

Shortly after the arrests an illegal camping notice was posted in front of City Hall, giving protesters until Tuesday, May 13, to clear the area or risk arrest.

On Sunday, May 11, the group formally signed a letter asking the Mayor to meet again this week.

More to come.

Note: Street Roots has been following the protests and is working on an in-depth news story for the Friday, May 16, edition. The newspaper also came out against the camping ordinance on May 5, asking City Hall to “suspend the camping ordinance in designated regions of the City of Portland until all nine-action steps have been implemented, and the 10-year plan to end homelessness is complete. 

Street Roots believes it is cruel and unusual punishment to continue to criminalize individuals experiencing homelessness from sleeping on public property when the City of Portland can’t offer any real, concrete solutions to the crisis until a projected 2015.”