Police paid another unannounced, but not unexpected, 4am visit to the Portland Peace Encampment Thursday morning, seizing several sleeping bags, backpacks, signs, paintings, and other personal belongings, as well as two more human beings.
A sergeant on the scene supervising the arresting officers said the two men would probably be charged with interfering with a police officer or failure to obey a lawful order. He said the men would not be charged with violating the anti-camping ordinance, despite the fact that they were both sleeping bags when police arrived, and both still occupied their sleeping bags when physically removed by the officers and arrested.
Many homeless and homeless advocates in Portland have called the anti-camping ordinance unlawful, preventing people with nowhere else to go from peacefully sleeping in public. Members of Crossroads, a group advocating for the rights of the poor and homeless, sponsored a giveaway of dozens of sleeping bags at a demonstration in front of City Hall, across the street from the longstanding encampment, in June.
When asked why the men arrested Thursday would not be charged with violating the anti-camping ordinance, an officer said, "You can look at the arrest report when they get out to see what they were charged with."
The men were taken in one car to the downtown jail, within site of the encampment, for processing. A police clerk will presumably spend most of a shift Thursday tagging the property seized by police, which filled a police van and the trunk of a car. Police left a detailed property receipt with the campers.
Portland police threatened to take a small amount of property that the campers had stored just off the 4th Avenue sidewalk on federally-owned property adjacent to Terry Schrunk Plaza. Camper Todd Kurylowicz interjected that an agent of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) had earlier given the encampment permission to store some possessions on the space, which was in a bushy area of the plaza. Portland police called the Federal Protective Service to the scene to verify Kurylowicz's claim that the encampment had FPS consent. An on-duty FPS agent was unable to confirm the approval. After police told the FPS agent that they would remove the property if he gave the word, the agent said he had better check with his superior officer, whom Kurylowicz said had given his approval.