From Amanda Waldroupe at the Willamette Week, May 14, 2008

The homeless protesters outside of City Hall are continuing to protest for their causes of more affordable housing and the suspension of the sit-lie and anti-camping ordinances despite a split amongst the ranks regarding whether they should leave City Hall during the evening in order to avoid a sweep by the police.

Last night, in a meeting attended by at least 50 of the protesters (see below), it was announced by protest leaders that protesters would no longer be spending the night at City Hall in an effort to avoid police sweeps.

Outspoken dissension ensued, and many people opted to stay at City Hall.

“I’ve been here way too long to let it go,” Laura Miller, 21, said.

“You don’t stand down where you’re in a fight,” Shaggy Simpson, 25, said.

Protesters say that approximately 60 people slept in front of City Hall last night.

Larry Reynolds, one of the leaders of the protest, told WW that the decision was made so that people could find a place to get some rest (it’s a bit difficult to get a good night’s rest in front of City Hall) and also so that the protesters could get re-organized and re-focused.

“We rested not very well last night,” Reynolds said, adding that he got about three hours of sleep last night.

Reynolds says that many people are anxious about the possibility of police sweeps in the middle of the night and have lost sleep waiting for the police to show up. A police sweep did not occur the night of May 12 and 13, as it was expected to, nor were any of the people who spent the night last night swept by the police.

Central Precinct Commander Mike Reese and public information officer Sgt. Brian Schmautz were not available for comment when WW tried to contact them this afternoon.

Reynolds thinks that the threat of police sweeps is only a hollow one.

“I think it is a scare tactic by the Portland police to run us out of here,” Reynolds said.

There is no hint amongst the protesters of giving up or leaving City Hall. However, people do not hold out a lot of confidence that the Mayor or rest of City Council will properly address their concerns.

“Their ears are stopped up,” Miller Miller, 47, said.

Miller was one of four people who testified in front of the City Council this morning on issues related to issues on homelessness and affordable housing.

“The number of homeless families, couples, single men and women and folks with kids far outweighs the number of temporary beds or space available to meet the needs of people,” Miller testified.

Of the way City Council is dealing with the protest, Miller testified that “this is not effective, compassionate leadership. Instead, it demonstrates an inability to recognize this as an emergency.”

“This is like a nightmare from Hell for them, and all they want is for us to go away,” Miller told WW this afternoon.

Throughout the afternoon and last night while WW was at City Hall, many cars driving by on 4th Avenue honked their horns in support of the protesters. Many people who are not homeless have also stopped by City Hall for a few hours or to spend the night with the protesters.

Supporters have even started a website documenting updates of the protest.

“We’ve got a lot of support,” Reynolds said. “We’re just going to continue with trying to get re-organized and keep driving the point until there is some action taken by City Hall.”