From KGW, May 15, 2008

CAPTURE VIDEO

The remaining homeless protestors camped in front of Portland’s City Hall were being cleared out by police Thursday morning, whether they wanted to leave or not.

The protest has continued nonstop for about three weeks.

Homeless people gather at City Hall to protest the City’s decision to remove them from bridge areas.

Representatives from the protest group recently told KGW they had decided to leave on their own accord after a Tuesday afternoon meeting with Mayor Tom Potter.

But they were not all gone on Thursday morning, so police decided to step in. Officers said the protestors had to move because it was time to clean the sidewalk. At least one protestor was arrested and there was a lot of yelling, but no major scuffles.

Portland Police announced earlier that officers would start patrolling the sidewalk.

“I strongly support your right to protest,” Portland Mayor Tom Potter said earlier in the week. “However, the city has the right to make reasonable time, place, and manner rules for the conduct of protests in public spaces, and can also act to protect the public from unnecessary obstructions as well as health, sanitation, and safety problems. Protests must comply with the City’s camping and sidewalk obstruction ordinances.”

Police had warned that they would start giving written and verbal warnings and then make any arrests if necessary.

From KGW.com, May 13, 2008

Portland Police will start patrolling the sidewalk in front of City Hall in response to the now more than two week protest by the homeless population there.

Meanwhile, Portland Mayor Tom Potter said Tuesday he is prepared to sweep the homeless camp if need be; he didn’t provide specifics about when that might be.

Earlier, he wrote a letter to protestors that said he was willing to meet with five representatives from their group and try and talk things out, but he will not tolerate illegal behavior on public property.

“I understand that there are a number of issues you wish to address. I also want to make you aware of my concerns as we begin our conversation,” he said, specifically pointing to drug activity, including the alleged sale of heroin during the protest and public health concerns involving the City Hall bathrooms.

“I strongly support your right to protest,” Potter added. “However, the city has the right to make reasonable time, place, and manner rules for the conduct of protests in public spaces, and can also act to protect the public from unnecessary obstructions as well as health, sanitation, and safety problems. Protests must comply with the City’s camping and sidewalk obstruction ordinances.”

Wesley Flowers, 31, is a homeless veteran, who has been protesting in front of City Hall since May 2nd, one week after the protest began.

“It’s really simple; there’s completely inadequate shelter space,” he said.

Flowers shared the opinion of the other homeless people out there.

But now, even those who are not homeless are joining in on the efforts.

“I’ve been camping down here for about five to six days now,” said Chris Knudtsen, who actually does not usually live on the streets. He has a college education and has had a job in Portland for two years.

He said he’s sleeping on the streets to support the homeless population.

“I see the problems that they’re going through every day and decided that it’s time to get more folks to stand up and support for them,” he said.

It seems he’s not alone.

Kudtson was joined by about two dozen others Monday night that do have homes, but who came to raise awareness.

“There’s definitely been a steady increase in folks who aren’t on the streets coming out in support. Monday night was definitely our biggest showing of support from folks in other aspects of the community,” said Knudtsen.

He says there needs to be more adequate housing and basic job training. Also, he says, a general understanding that the homeless are simply going through hard times.

“There’s a certain stigma attached to them because of the conditions they’re living in. They’re seen as less important and less human and in the eyes of the public and society as a whole. Sometimes it’s necessary to bring folks that can pass as regular citizens to come and be their advocates,” he added.

The mayor’s office warned that Portland police will be doing strict sidewalk obstruction and camping enforcement sometime Tuesday, though they didn’t have a specific time frame.

They said Portland police will start giving written and verbal warnings and then make any arrests if necessary. This will happen over the next several days.

From KGW.com, May 11, 2008

After two weeks of protesting, homeless residents camping out in front of Portland City Hall were told Saturday that they will have move. Saturday, officers arrested seven people, focusing on the city’s “Sit and Lie” Ordinance. The arrests centered on those sitting against the fence wall that surrounds city hall, and blocking the interior of the sidewalk.

Homeless people gather at City Hall to protest the City’s decision to remove them from bridge areas.

Mayor Tom Potter has asked police to enforce a city ordinance that prohibits camping in public places. After Saturday’s warning, the enforcement is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

The protest started with 15-20 people camping in front of City Hall, but that number has ballooned to more than 100. It’s that number that has the mayor concerned.

“The amount of clutter has greatly affected the ability of the public to use the sidewalk,” Potter said in a statement Saturday. “I also have an increasing concern about the safety of both the protestors and the general public.”

Potter had originally supported the protest, but said there have been numerous calls for police and medical assistance, along with sanitation concerns in and outside of city hall.

“It’s bologna,” said a protester named Jukeboxxxe, upset over the arrests. “We are having a peaceful protest and they are bringing a violent element into our peaceful protests. We have been policing ourselves.”

Homeless residents began their protest in late April. They complain the city hasn’t done enough for homeless people.

Mayor Potter said the city will connect protestors and homeless individuals with service providers who can help them find shelter or other places to go.