Portland Pitchforks & Torches Protest Mayor’s Crackdown On Homeless

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Above: Portland-homeless-live-in-fear-of-frequent-weekly-sweeps-by-police, from “Portland’s Homeless Still Suffer Without a Right to a Tent or a Tarp.”

A group of fired-up activists in Portland, Ore., who were tired of seeing homeless people being mistreated staged the kind of protest that will be difficult for the mayor to ignore.

From twitter of Jessie Sponberg

From twitter of Jessie Sponberg

An estimated 4,000 people sleep on the streets of Portland, Ore., on any given night and, since last summer, life has become increasingly difficult for them.

So, a group of protesters descended upon Portland City Hall on Tuesday night carrying pitchforks and torches to “shame the mayor into action,” organizer Jessie Sponberg told The Oregonian.

Portland appears to be gearing up to revive a bill that would allow police to rouse homeless people sitting on sidewalks, The Oregonian reported at the end of last year. In July, Mayor Charlie Hales launched an effort to clear out homeless campsites,according to the Portland Mercury.

Sweeping campsites often exacerbates the situation for people living on the streets because the police discard homeless people’s few possessions, which may include their only warm clothing and blankets, advocates noted in a Change.org petition.

But Hales told The Oregonian in August that he plans on balancing the crackdown on homeless camps with increasing funding for overnight shelters. But he didn’t commit to a spending figure.

“This is not about homelessness,” the mayor told the paper about the anti-camping law. “It’s about lawlessness.”

Portland torches and pitchfork homeless protestHoards of advocates have continued to voice their concerns about the extensive measures, but Film the Police Portland — a grassroots advocacy group — took their protest beyond just handing out petitions.

The group of about 50 protesters set up shop at City Hall on Tuesday, waving pitchforks and torches. They turned the surrounding gardens into a cemetery scene to signify the number of homeless people who have frozen to death, Sponberg wrote on his Facebook page.

They said they hope their efforts will urge Mayor Hales to stop criminalizing homelessness.Portland homelessness protest Bad Mayor sign

“You know, the cops are out there sweeping out these camps. Destroying the closest thing to a normal life that these people have managed to carve out in this crazy world,” Sponberg wrote. “Throwing everything they have into the garbage. And it’s not that the cops are doing this because they are jerks. They may be jerks, but they get a pass on this one. In this case they are just doing their jobs, following city policy, as per established by Mayor Hales.”

  • Terry Cooper

    Homelessness has become part and parcel of today’s economy. There are people on the streets now who five years ago had homes, jobs, and mortgages, marriages, etc. There are entire families that are homeless and there are not enough shelters to house them. There are not enough jobs for them to become re-established either. To inflict more difficulties on these people by criminalizing them trying to survive in the most difficult of circumstances, is inhumane. These protestors need many more people to show up to these protests, and do not do or say anything to antagonize the cops. This is not a party, it’s a serious issue that must be adequately addressed.

  • Trish House
  • sa

    Its terrible how many are struggling with homelessness these days. And some folks do struggle with mental health issues. BUT we all know most of what goes on is just bullcrap, and there are some people who just give no shits about the state of their lives, or yours for that matter. This lying around on the sidewalks, taking up all of the park benches, smoking in your effin face, shitting and tweaking and freaking in EVERY FLIPPIN nook and cranny of the city (usually the prettiest parts, great for tourism!), running around with dangerous dogs, methed up and begging for money HAS GOT. TO. STOP. Instead of protesting against laws that will eventually pass NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, (NO MATTER WHAT YOU EFFIN DO!)why don’t you protesters literally put your money and time where your mouth is and actually help the folks who need help? And by the way THE BUSINESS OWNERS, TOURISTS, PEARL DISTRICT DENIZENS AND PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GENTRIFY OLD TOWN ARE GONNA WIIIINNNNNNN! Because they have the time, money, high powered lawyers and anything else they might need to get rid of the seemingly endless supply of down-and-out people that other cities actually purchase one-way bus tickets to HERE for, not to mention the filthy, shit-covered sidewalks, the seedy-ass bars and strip clubs…enjoy them now, they are going bye-bye. Don’t come crying when the sit-lie passes, prepare yourself to adjust to it.

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