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Speech to Mayor Potter and the City Council, June 4th 2008

This is the text of the speech that I delivered at the June 4th, 2008 City Council meeting. Everyone who spoke today was moving, and I will provide the text of other speeches as they are made available to me.
Good morning Mayor Potter and members of the City Council, my name is Wesley Flowers and I sleep outside. On Sunday night, I slept at the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center's 90 bed extended shelter, which this administration provided as a response to the protest outside and I'm appalled that you would even suggest that someone sleep in those conditions.

Two foot wide mats on the floor scrunched up next to each other with no shower facilities and blankets that go re-used and unwashed until they're so dingy they get thrown out and replaced with new to begin the cycle of wasteful resource management and a public health hazard all over again!? Those hardly qualify as beds. I'm less likely to get sick outside. I'm less likely to get scabies outside. I'm less likely to get rolled onto, slept on, and drooled over if I don't have some guy 6 inches on either side of me. These are inhuman conditions.

The sit/lie and urban camping "quality of life" ordinances have already been found unconstitutional by the 9th Circuit and people still have to sleep. There are not enough beds for the people that want them, and those that are available on a limited basis are unsanitary and overcrowded and even those who are sleeping in those beds are not afforded enough time to get a good night's sleep. To criminalize the act of sleeping in a public place due to lack of other available or rationally dignified options could be nothing other THAN cruel and unusual punishment. This is turning a social problem into a criminal one and that simply doesn't make any sense.

Considering that Portland is only one out of 97 cities with virtually identical programs, it also seems that there is a state of class criminalization and permanent displacement for millions of people nationwide. This is not coincidence, this is premeditation and it is looking more and more like social cleansing based on policies that induce an economic apartheid and it sickens me that this could possibly be going on in MY country!

The 10 year plan was developed three years ago, while 6 months ago we experienced the beginning of a recession, which is looking increasingly like a depression, and the 10 year plan is not equipped to respond to that contingency. You cannot truly focus on permanent housing first when the country is in the middle of a housing crisis and record job-loss. People are coming onto the streets faster than the 10 year plan ever envisioned and they are being swept around like trash and forced into the criminal justice system faster than they can figure out what to do.

This is not right. Social cleansing is a crime against humanity, and this needs to stop now. Is this the legacy you're planning on leaving behind? Your last few months in office hounded by "bums" demanding that they at least be afforded the most basic of human rights; the opportunity to get a good nights sleep? A potential federal lawsuit for the incoming mayor to deal with in his first term? It's almost like leaving as big of a mess as Bush will when he gets out of office next year too.

Repeal the sit/lie and camping ordinances and establish a 'green zone' now. Not tomorrow... today. Thank you.

Thank You 04.Jun.2008 15:53

Den Mark, Vancouver

By standing up for your own dignity, you are standing up or everyone's dignity. Thank you.

I wonder how many clean quiet secure beds could've been provided with money otherwise lost to tax abatements in "The Pearl"!

yes, thank you!! 04.Jun.2008 16:02

these are beautiful words

I hope that the Mayor will take action and repeal the Sit/Lie ordinanace.
It is unusually cruel and inhumane.
Portlanders, housed or not, deserve the dignity of a place to sleep that is dry, safe and warm. This is NOT too much to ask!
Thank you for speaking up to Mayor Potter and for posting this.

Our fellow Rpotlanp

Next Step Wesley 04.Jun.2008 20:15

Not Good Queer Lisaiacuzzi@yahoo.com

UPP and Wesley are doing so good. So do the next step Wesley. Follow your vision.

Not a Good Queer on Google

We Hear Ya - But Did City Hall ? 05.Jun.2008 11:57

Joe Anybody iam@joe-anybody.com

Excellently spoken ... Good Points to tell our City Leaders and all those in the community

I am glad City Hall was able to hear that message, your words are like seeds, looks like you palnted a few!!

Keep up the Good Fight!

Thanks for standing up for all the homeless, by demanding humanity and livability in our city regarding those with no permanent homes.

Thanks for speaking for those who are pushed-out and shoved-around from, bridges and doorways and sidewalks, and all the while being told that the disgusting overcrowded shelter is there "only hope" for refuge
(oh besides some 10 year down the road plan that there will be is-no guarantee if it even pans out as planned?)