Last Saturday, the Hollywood Booster Club invited would-be do-gooders to attend the thoughtlessly titled "Bum, Beggar and Transient Tour." The goal, according to their flyers, seemed to be to display, stigmatize and ridicule people without houses in the Hollywood district. This Saturday, they have organized a "cleanup" of camps that were toured last weekend -- in other words, they want to displace the already displaced. (No doubt they will bring along the armed support of the complicit Portland police bureau.) The club is attributing this action to their "Liveability and Safety Task Force." How quaint. And how frightening.
While such righteous and self-congratulatory insensitivity would cause my stomach to turn anyway, I am especially disturbed to see this happening at this time. There has been an all-out war going on against the homeless people of this city since the gentrification projects began downtown. People are being harassed, arrested, and disappeared by the Portland police. The Portland city council has played cat-and-mouse with the American Constitution to enact several draconian ordinances which effectively criminalize poverty. The Portland Business Alliance has made the eradication of downtown refuges for poor people their top priority. The notorious (and Yikes! Balding!) Officer Meyers has embarked upon a weirdly dangerous pilot project to drive homeless people...somewhere else. And now, the good citizens of the Hollywood district want to further demonize those who cannot afford a nice green lawn and a dodge ram? Something stinks.
I have been attempting to contact the Hollywood booster club all week in an effort to learn why any well-meaning person would imagine that this blatant aggression against fellow human beings is appropriate. I have been unable to reach anyone except the robotic voice of their answering machine. If you would like to try to talk reason to the robot -- or just record a piece of your mind -- their contact number is 503-288-3892. Go ahead, give em a call.
But don't stop there. They're calling this classist degradation "direct action." Let's show them what those words really mean. I plan to be there to meet them at the Hollywood transit center on Saturday morning, to accompany the "cleanup." I want to bear witness to their acts, and to make it clear that they do NOT represent this community. Don't leave me hangin out there alone! Please join me. I would love to see a respectable turnout of people who are not down with demonizing people without houses. Maybe we can have our own tour -- of the damage being done to our community by the bizarre, unhealthy and unsustainable manner in which members of the Hollywood Booster club live. Perhaps a "ChemLawn, SUV and Corporate Chain Store" tour?
In any event, I know it's early and all that, but please come out in solidarity with the people being targeted by this nonsense. They need to know that we have their backs, just as they will have ours if the do-gooders show up at our doorstep someday.