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City Commissioners Threaten to ‘Escalate’ City Tactics Against Portland Peace Encampment

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City Commissioner Randy Leonard visited the Portland Peace Encampment on Thursday afternoon to notify campers that the city plans to 'escalate' its tactics to force the removal of the Encampment. The camp is a non-violent protest against the American war on Iraq that has been ongoing for 24 hours per day since the US military invaded and occupied the nation on March 20.

Since that time, the camp has evolved from a straight peace protest to draw attention to the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly. Occupying sidewalk space on SW 4th Avenue directly across from City Hall for 24 hours a day has also led the Encampment to become a voice of resistance against Portland's anti-camping ordinance and the city's so-called 'sit-lie' ordinance, both designed to prevent Portland's poor from occupying space in the downtown core and within the city.

Homeless individuals and advocates have called both ordinances unlawful and derided them as an effort to rid the city of people that Portland business interests call 'undesirable'.

Multnomah County Judge Stephen Gallagher ruled the anti-camping ordinance unconstitutional in a September 2000 court ruling. Gallagher ruled that given the city's lack of shelter space, the ordinance violates residents' freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. Because Gallagher was a circuit court judge and the case was not taken to an appeals court, the ruling is not binding outside of the specific court case.

Commissioner Leonard refused to say what he meant when he told members of the Peace Encampment that the city planned to 'escalate' its tactics to remove the camp. Since the Encampment was formed in March, Portland police have used all manner of tactics to intimidate and harass campers, including at least four arrests on charges ranging from interference with a police officer to failing to obey. Police have also made a pattern of visiting the Encampment during early morning hours to seize property, frequently failing to provide property receipts to property owners.

Tellingly, the city has not charged a single person with violating the anti-camping ordinance, though as many as 25 homeless persons have slept on the sidewalk in front of City Hall on a single night.

"It's going to get a lot worse," campers quoted Leonard as saying during his Thursday visit. Though Leonard did not elaborate, campers said the commissioner made it clear that he was speaking of an increase in police and city confrontations with not only the Peace Encampment, but also against homeless Portlanders in other parts of the city.

Peace Encampment members have issued a call for any interested city residents to visit the Encampment with video cameras and cameras to document police misconduct.
threats against the homeless 31.Jul.2003 20:19

east sider with a heart

There has in deed been an increase in campaigns against the homeless. Business owners in the Kerns neighborhood gathered last night and the meeting sound like a vigilante group --- drug addicts, prostitutes and homeless people are all being lumped together. it is true that in some areas street crime is up, but it is also true that there are fewer places for the homeless to go, treatments centers are fewer and farther away and the mentally ill are just wandering the streets.
The business owners may have real complaints but it is a law of physics that a body (mass) must take up some space.. and many people have not a clue where to go...
seems like our city comissioners just want them to dissappear.
one homeless woman suggested to me that it would be good if there were 'Swings on the stars that the homeless could just be pulled up by at night"
sad isn't it....
It is also interesting that the peace camp has lasted as long as it has...I admire their endurance on account of both issues... but if they had all been homeless to begin with they would have been gone long ago...

Organize Support 31.Jul.2003 21:47

RADREV

Any action taken in support of the peace encampment is helpful and significant to the plight of the many that are subject to social marginalization. The peace encampment stood as a symbol of the victimization of Iraqi citizens by the current administration and now stands for the victimization of the marginalized populations and the attacks on our constitutional liberties. Write a letter to the editor, attend a city council meeting, plan a direct action, or sit in a van over night across from the peace encampment with a video camera and wait.

It won't be long... I predict that since the courts are closed on Friday that the police will attack tonight around 3:00 a.m. after the streets have cleared of most traffic and the night duty cops will still have time to process the victims their attack and get home in time to beat their wives. The methodology; surprise, shock and awe intended to provoke a response from the protesters and, thereby, create charges that will stick because they have little to room to work legally against the protesters under current code. By attacking tonight they will be able to hold all arrested until the courts are open again Monday for arraignment and that will effectively "clear-out" the peace encampment for the weekend and psychologically end the protest.

Expect a violent, loud, and aggressive attack.

Godspeed Todd and friends.

Pardon me... 31.Jul.2003 22:36

Sam Drucker

I'm not trying to be a wise guy, honest. But this subject always confuses me, because we're talking about a "peace encampment" yet the subject of homelessness always comes up. Those at the peace encampment are not homeless, correct?

peace camp and homelessness 01.Aug.2003 00:10

nice and relaxed

The reason that homelessness is brought up in discussions of the peace camp is because the ordinances that are being used against the peace camp are ones that were designed to be used against the homeless. The article mentions 2 ordinances that are important to understand. So the issue is not whether there are homeless people at the peace camp; the issue is what ordinances are created for the city to "deal with" the homeless that are also being applied to the peace camp. So that is why you always see the 2 issues discussed together. Hope that answers your question.

I understand...but.... 01.Aug.2003 08:03

Sam Drucker

Thank you. Yes, that clears that up.

But what about "camping" in city limits? Isn't that illegal? Maybe that's what the city is freaking out about? I live in the city, and I'd be troubled if people just came and set up camp in my neighborhood. I'm sure my neighbors would feel likewise; we all pay property taxes. If the idea downtown is to "make a point" about something, I seriously doubt its effectiveness. And it must be very uncomfortable.

Where? 01.Aug.2003 08:21

park roustee

Hey, Sam, where the fuck are people supposed to live who can't afford rent? What did you do to get the right to "own" land that neither you nor whoever you got it from created, but got it ultimately as ill-gotten gains from the mass murder & armed robbery of the Indians? Exactly why would you be so upset if someone dared to camp in "your" neighborhood? What harm could homeless campers do greater than your respectable neighbors do driving their goddam SUVs and running their power mowers? If you reply with the usual knee-jerk stereotype about how hard you work etc., how about an honest appraisal of all the other people who applied for your job and didn't get it and the corners you and your superiors & company & customers cut? and how about the harmful effects of the consumer crap you buy for "convenience" or the fun of it.

hey ... park roustee 01.Aug.2003 09:11

skate

Speaking of knee jerk reactions. Spewing that kind of unthinking bigotry all over someone who says something you don't like is hardly a reasoned response.

respect others opinions 01.Aug.2003 10:08

ned netherlands

Hey park roustee, why don't you respect what other people have to say. Sam is simply stating his opinion. You don't need to be critical and stereotypical just because you see the world differently. In addition, I was downtown yesterday and saw "Help Wanted" signs in a couple windows. Why don't some of the homeless beggers clean up and go apply. Lastly, I would be pretty upset too if people decided to set up camp and bang bongos in front of my house.

OR 01.Aug.2003 10:24

Not a peace encampment fan

Hey Park Roustee,

Where do you get off on being on such higher ground? You live somewhere and whether or not you "own" it or "rent" it you or someone is paying for it. So you're not unlike Sam. The damage that is done by "campers" is at least two fold. If people are allowed to just put up a tent anywhere they want in a neighborhood the issue of sanitation becomes paramount. Where do you go to the bathroom? Where do you throw away your garbage? If your answers are along the lines of using someone else's facilities, then you are a hypocrite because those facilities exist by those who are contributing to society.

Our society, like it or not, is based on people putting money into it. If this were not true then you wouldn't be begging for money on the corner. If we had a society without guidelines regarding people just plopping down and existing wherever they deem appropriate, then there wouldn't be a sidewalk to sleep on. So, if your utopia is a free for all-every person for themselves-live anywhere you want-society, what would there be? Do you honestly think everyone would just get along and help each other out? No, it is survival of the fittest. You would be defending your means of keeping youself alive. Hell, we barely take care of each other in a "civilized" society.

The second main flaw with your ideal is the means of which your campers in neighborhoods obtain money, food, clothing etc... . If you cant afford rent you don't have a means of income. So then you depend on alternative means of obtaining those things you need to survive. You dig in other peoples garbage, you ask other people for money, you depend on the discards of those who are more productive than yourselves.

The downward spiral is obvious. More campers, less attractive to people who want to live in neighborhood, people move away, fewer discards for campers to obtain, campers move to another location like to find better host, repeat.

Not a homeless encampment 01.Aug.2003 11:28

Sam Drucker

We've established that the peace encampment isn't a homeless encampment, it's a symbolic "protest." Sort of like performance art. Correct?

You said: "Exactly why would you be so upset if someone dared to camp in "your" neighborhood? "

Well, the same reason you'd be upset if I did it to you. We might even live in the same neighborhood, who knows?

Park Roustee, like it or not, the world works a certain way. It's not personal, man.

confusing human nature with culture 01.Aug.2003 11:45

someone

The world does work a certain way, the way we choose it to work. The question is, can we begin to choose a way that's not based on forcing others to suffer for not living the way we would have them live, or the way we live ourselves. We should abandon antiquated notions like "survival of the fittest" because they do not serve to create a society of peace and happiness; indeed both the social sciences and biological sciences have plenty of evidence to support that survival of the fittest is a false theory. Evolution seems much more likely to thrive on diversity and community rather than homogeneity and isolation that civilization provides. It is no surprise that "we barely take care of each other in a "civilized" society" and yet what we must remember is that "non-civilized" cultures seemed to have no trouble taking care of one another. Maybe there is something there to learn from. Maybe we can start recognizing the value that all humans have regardless of whether they are paying money into the economy. That seems like an incredibly inhuman and inhumane way to judge a person. Personally, I think the strength, humanity, and sustainability of any culture can be evaluated based on how the worst off people live. And by that measure, looking at the responses here, I'd say our culture is as deeply flawed as ever. Without community there is no strength; without respect there is no peace; without understanding there is only anger and resentment. I would rather build a community that respects everyone than tramples on anyone. People can try to rationalize the situation all they like, but all I see is a difference of values, those who respect others, and those who do not.

so where do the homeless go" 01.Aug.2003 11:47

mom

when I was going by the peace encampment a day or so ago while taking the bus, it did look very much like a homeless camp. Just people! sitting, talking eating etc. with their things about them.
Protestors can do that for a time --- rose festival junkies can camp out over night and even mark "their spot " with ropes or tape or chairs overnight before their event.
The homeless poor have no where to go and the issues that make/cause them to be homeless are not being addressed. They sit on the sidewalk and someone asks them to move on. They may have been awake all night - no matter--- as long as they keep on moving.
It is not a solution to have people camp in neighborhoods without toiets and running water--- but think about it--- where are they supposed to go?
And yes, if you don't have a job and have needs other than food --- like tampons or toothpaste -- you have to have money. Dumpster diving and scrapping is one way, canning is the most common, but it is not surprising that drug dealing is on the list as well. Most drug lords don't care if you have a work history, are mentally ill or have a high school diploma as long as you distribute the goods and bring back the money.
We live in a sick society where people can talk about the obvious problems and are just plain not willing to take action to change things for the better for everyone. Everyone wants a nice neighborhood, even the homeless poor!

To: Not a Peace Encampment Fan 01.Aug.2003 12:45

RADREV

It is very clear from you missive that you maintain a high degree of anger, hostility, and fear. You sound angry that everyone doesn't buy into your notions of corporate capital, hostile toward the homeless, and fearful of others who can't share your economic reality.

These are exactly the emotions that the political economic interests are campaigning to engender in the population. Look for a moment and survey the scene around you and investigate the reasons for your belief system, where do your notions and emotions come from? Surly, you believe yourself to be a sensitive and compassionate person but what is an individual to do when confronted with the world in which we must live? Is it not true that everyone is confronted with the same question and everyone responds in the best way that they can to confront the world according to their beliefs and the sociopolitical reality with which they are confronted.

The people on the streets are not the cause of problems they are the symptom of a problem larger than themselves, recognizing that simple truth is to find compassion within your self. Working to change that harsh sociopolitical economic reality for the benefit of others also benefits yourself by creating a better community in which to live and it confirms the compassion that you possess.

This is a simple argument that has been used for years to shut down activists; if you don't like the law, then change it...go vote. When we are talking about a sociopolitical cause and effect cycle then the statement goes; if you don't like your sociopolitical reality then change it into a system/reality that you like. It is very simple.

Unfortunately, the prevailing political/corporate interests manipulate public opinion and reinforce the notions of private property suggesting that the only response to a bad economy is greater protection to secure private interests. The methodology is ancient; manipulate public fears to bend the population to the will of the corporate political structure. In short, your unexamined statements are just as much a result, an effect, of a cause that is larger than yourself as are the homeless that you fear.

If anyone truly believes themselves to be compassionate, thoughtful, and concerned with human interests then they need to examine their behaviors and compare their actions against their beliefs. If they find that their behaviors and actions are incongruous with their beliefs then they need to change either their beliefs or they need to change their behaviors and actions. It is simple but very hard. Many of the people out sourcing materials from the abundance of others have confronted consumer culture against their compassionate belief system and their actions reflect an intellectual choice. These people recycle, reuse, and reclaim products that are unacceptable to others and, thereby, in a small way decrease the impact of American consumer culture upon the rest of the world. More importantly they live lives congruant with their belief system and their notions of humanity.

It is a horrible reality that people are hostile toward people making a compassionate choice and acting on their belief system but that is exactly what private corporations, the private political system (your government), and private military (police) hired to protect those interests hope to engender in the mainstream population; fear of non-consumers, fear of the other. Your angry fearful hostility is not your own because you are a compassionate person, all the negative aspects of your missive are the result of social manipulation. The sooner we all recognize that simple reality the sooner we can start to rebuild the world in which we wish to live.

Godspeed and Peace; Find your compassion and act upon your compassion.

Please respond in some way to this note. I am very curious to read your response...you are a very articulate writer which bespeaks a thoughfulness.

Thank you 01.Aug.2003 12:51

Unconcerned

Thank you for the sermon, Rev. Radrev.

WORK 01.Aug.2003 13:01

no spare change

In my opinion, a lot of the apathy towards the homeless is a symptom of those who exploit homelessness. There are those who choose homelessness as opposed to those who wound up on the streets due to unfortunate circumstances. Either way, it's more productive to seek employment than to sit on the sidewalk asking for money. Labor Ready provides a means of earning money right away, why not earn a few bucks on your own?

I know that sounds bitter, but the lines have become fuzzy between those who have a legitimate need for assistance and those who choose the lifestyle.

choose poverty 01.Aug.2003 13:38

astral ether

productivity is overrated. some prefer the challenge of freedom -- it makes them happy, so what?

labor works for those who can really work 01.Aug.2003 13:41

mom

It is sad that the stereo types of the homeless prevail...
to those who think it so easy to just get a job--
try applying for a job after you haven't slept all night because you didn't have the money to pay the rent --- even shleters are charging a nightly fee!!! where do yo come up with $3-$8 dollars a night if you don't have a job?
ask how many employers will hire you if you don't have consistent work history --- or if you have a record of some sort...
do a survey: find out how many apartments will rent to someone whose income is on a day to day basis.
find out how much money it will take to get into a low income apartment -- and how much money it will take to maintain it versus the wages paid for day labor...
sit down and talk to one of the "homeless" decide whether you would be willing as an employer to hire them.
Many people look but do not see the real issues...
If you are homeless with children the tasks are enormous e.g. safe place for kids to stay when you have no money to leave them in adequate child care... / cost of housing/ temporary shelters for families with kids are rare and don't involve a pace for kids to stay when parents are job hunting...
yikes! this issue is so big. And there is the real fact that our economy does best when there are certain number of unemployed
--- we have whole service industries that survive taking care of these poor folks -- and the folks who serve them need work too!
and then there is the fact that if fewer and fewer continue to gain more and more at the expense of everyone else, then the number without grows and grows.
sick sick sick.

ok RadRev 01.Aug.2003 15:29

still not a peace encampent fan

RadRev:

After reading your response I did take a moment to examine my thoughts on this subject further. I honestly don't fear the homeless. My opinions are based upon my personal experiences, not based on corporate media, media stereotypes etc. You have formed a stereotype of your own regarding the way you painted me in that color. I have been in the downtown environment for about 15 years between school and work. I see two types of homeless people, those who truly are a byproduct of unfortunate circumstances or disability and those who choose the lifestyle and exploit the sensitivities and compassion similar to those you seem to possess. I never considered that those who choose the lifestyle are making a compassionate choice.

In my experience, I have found that there are more homeless people who exploit. I'm not claiming I am correct, but it has been my experience. The justifications for digging in garbage cans has invariably been, "Im hungry". Never has the justification been "This is my intellectual choice to re-use, recycle and reclaim products that are unacceptable to others and, thereby, in a small way decrease the impact of American consumer culture upon the rest of the world." I know that's what you believe and maybe the homeless people you know are of a higher intellect than the ones I encounter on a daily basis.

You are correct in that our society is largely turning the other cheek away from the homeless. I think, in part, this is due to many homeless people simply not wanting to change or be rehabilitated or be counseled or to be receptive to whatever our society does to attempt to help. There are those who just want to live the lifestyle. (i.e. Dignity Village)

Back to the peace encampment... . I pass by it every single morning on my way to work. My first reaction was one of discontent. Now as time has gone by I think the message has gone by the wayside and it's turning into a place to hang out under the pretext of "peace". It is again exploiting a noble cause such as the anti-war message. It is the analogous "dirty camp in the clean neighborhood" and you are driving the neighbors away. In other words, the representatives of the anti-war message at the "peace-encampment" are no more than street people" who have nothing else to do but hang out" in the eyes of those who they are trying to reach.

to astral ether 01.Aug.2003 16:28

bread winner

The answer to your questions is this; If you are surviving off of the scraps of those who contribute to this society you are not free. You are co-dependant. If it werent for those people who leave a little bread behind you wouldnt survive.

and by the way.........even though your not thanking any of us............your welcome.

Portland Peace Encampment - day god-knows-what (I lost count :-p) 02.Aug.2003 17:22

Ex0duS ex0dus@phreaker.net

I used to stay at the peace encampment because they shared the same views I did and I had a place to store what meager items I did own there. I stayed for 3 months for 2 facts, 1. I love the idea of a world finally at peace with itself (a dream that will probally never become reality but that doesn't stop me from wishing it would happen), 2. I was homeless and needed a place to lay my head at night. I didn't choose to be homeless mind you. I am a computer Technician and User Support Anylist. I do software design and webdesign yet I can not find a job to save my skin. I have tried many times and have been unable to do so for the longest time. Heck, if you find a job that I can do (besides "Labor Ready" all they wanna do is rupture my hernia that I have no medical insurance for because I do not "spange" or pick up cans and bottles for money to pay off the co-pay requirements) Nor do I want this citys screwed up OHP care. I only want a job where I am not lifting anything over 30 pounds and the job must have a relaxed enviroment (IOW NO SUITS!) Thats all I hope for... But am I going to get it? Hell no! Why you might ask? Because This city AND state are in such a unemployment slump that I wouldnt be able to get a job even if it came up and bit me in the ass! Anyway to get to my points I was trying to make before I started ranting... The peace encampment may have a few homeless people there BUT That does NOT change the message they are trying to express! Making homelessness illegal should be illegal in itself! And the peace encampment? I say keep up the good work chaps. The world needs more people like you!
Good luck. And I will see if I can bring down something to eat later on...

Escalation 03.Aug.2003 19:04

firetruck

I guess I found out for myself what escalation means.

Words of Wisdon 04.Aug.2003 12:02

Ching

One who excels in travelling leaves no wheel tracks;
One who excels in speech makes no slips;
One who excels in reckoning uses no counting rods;
One whos excels in shutting uses no bolts yet what he
has shut cannot be opened.
One who excels in tying uses no cords yet what he has
tied cannot be undone.
Therefore the sage always excels in saving people, and so
abandons no one; always excels in saving things, and so
abandons nothing.
This is called following one's decernment.
Hence the good man is the teacher the bad learns from;
And the bad man is the material the good works on.
Not to value the teacher
Not to love the material
Though is seems clever, betrays great bewilderment.
This is called the essential and the secret.

Vera 06.Aug.2003 13:58

Wants them to pitch a tent

Since homelessness came up quite a bit in this thread I wanted to add a thought.
The agenda of Vera and her cronies is crystalline.
Use tax abated, taxpayer supported urban renewal to knock down all the affordable housing neighborhoods.
Replace them with high priced condos for the well connected, west side elitists.
Fix it up so the elitists pay no property taxes.
THEN BE A GREAT HUMANITARIAN BY ALLOWING FOLKS TO PITCH A TENT IN "DIGNITY VILLAGE".
These folks in City Hall are cunning. They put up a front job like Dignity Village to show how socially concerned they are while they orchestrate projects to line the pockets of themselves and their cronies.
Wouldn't you like to get a look at the campaign contribution records on the firms, or the owners of the firms, who are doing these development projects?

Yeah, why don't they just get jobs? 20.Mar.2004 13:56

Seditious Serf

Just look at the fucking wages these jobs pay. You can't buy a house or even rent a hole in the ground on that kind of money, let alone afford to get a shower so that you look presentable enough to keep the job, and there's the problem of becoming presentable to begin with.

Middle-class people are completely sheltered from this aspect of reality. They think you can get a $6/hr. job and make enough money to live solely off the market. And their sheltered safe haven is rapidly shrinking as a result of a class war they don't even know is happening, even though some of them read Indymedia. Soon, it'll stop raining money on you. More downsized middle-class people will compete for fewer and fewer office jobs. You'll lose your houses to forclosure and be looking for places to pitch your own tents.