Hales to crack down on homeless protesters

Hales to crack down on homeless protesters

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by KGW reporter Wayne Havrelly

Bio | Email | Follow: @HavrellyKGW

kgw.com

Posted on July 20, 2013 at 4:11 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 22 at 5:44 AM

PORTLAND -- The eviction notices went up late Friday night telling camping protesters they must leave the sidewalks around City Hall, but the notices were ripped down by protesters faster than they went up. 

"If they raid us, we will raid them because there are a lot more kids that are crazier than cops think," said a young homeless protester who goes by Angel. 

"I decided to handcuff myself to this tree due to the fact that I believe in my First Amendment rights to protest," said Trevor Matney who has lived in front of City Hall for six months now.

Alvin Ronald Taylor is a pastor at the Union Gospel Mission.  He's concerned about the city's new plan to evict the homeless from City Hall. 

"It creates a domino effect and what happens is when people have no where to go, they're out on the street and the next step is crime," he said.

Dana Haynes with the Mayor's office said crime is what's behind the Mayor's move to evict.

"When police showed Mayor Hales there had been 113 calls to the block around City Hall over the past 180 days, Mayor Hales said enough is enough," said Haynes. 

He said the city changed the zoning around City Hall to a high-use pedestrian zone which they said makes it illegal to camp.

"Portland is in a dilemma," said homeless veteran Dwayne Owen, who first learned about Portland after his wife died of a stroke in Indiana and his alcohol abuse sent him to a homeless shelter in Indiana.  "I was told if you're going to be homeless then Portland, Oregon is the best place in the U.S. to be homeless."

Portland's reputation as a caring place could be seen at an annual downtown compassion event at the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum Saturday.  More than 400 volunteers provided food, health care, dental care, even haircuts to those in need.  More than 1,000 people were served in just a few hours.

Portland is performing a tough juggling act: In the air, compassion, the right to protest and public safety.  Which ball will fall first?

"None of us are leaving this sidewalk outside City Hall," said a young homeless protester.

 

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