PORTLAND -- A homeless protest in downtown Portland that simmered for months may reach a boiling point Tuesday.
The 4th Avenue sidewalk in front of city hall, which has hosted dozens of homeless protestors is about to get a make over. Mayor Charlie Hales said police would likely clear out all campers Tuesday. The sidewalk will be cleaned up but then the protestors will be allowed back to sleep if they want beginning at 9 p.m. and they have to be up and moving by 7 a.m.
Business leaders say the city wide homeless issue threatens to hurt business.
Because we do want that growth to continue and we do hear from a lot of retailers who are concerned about the current level of sidewalk behavior and issues. So we want to try to remedy that through additional services and through a better enforcement tool, said Megan Doern, spokesperson for the Portland Business Alliance.
For month protestors like 19-year-old Sawyer Sherman, from Seattle, have camped on the sidewalk in front of city hall.
He said he was here in March and April took a trip to Disneyland and returned last week. He is concerned about social justice. What we are doing takes a lot of courage. It takes a lot of passion! he said.
Samantha, a woman who would not give her last name is also from Seattle. She has her three year old son with her. She said she s a traveler and enjoys meeting up with like minded people around the country.
So far Portland has been a more progressive city than a lot of places I ve been and the fact that we can even have our right to do this you know is really cool, she said.
She and others here are protesting a lack of overnight shelters for the homeless. But the city has said its time to end the campout that is part of the protest on the sidewalk.
So we re gonna invoke the authority of the city, limited as it is, under our sidewalk management ordinance, to make sure the area around this building is safe and welcoming for everyone to come and go from this building, said Mayor Charlie Hales.
Portland Police Commander Bob Day said police say they are ready for anything. Historically, and this isn t the first time we ve taken this approach down here, we ve usually had pretty good compliance. Occasionally we have somebody who wants to be arrested and we ll facilitate that, Commander Day said.