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Interfering With Homeless People's Lives:
Portland's Ongoing War on the Poor

Portland's war on the homeless continues. On June 12, a homeless man was shot and killed by Portland Police in the Springwater Corridor (article). On July 2, the Citizen Review Committee (CRC), reviewed an appeal involving allegations of inappropriate force by police officers who wrestled a dog to the ground, beat one man, and deployed pepper spray while engaging with a group of homeless people (article). And on July 30, the Portland Mercury reported that police had used the constitutionally vague and one-size-fits- all "Interfering with a Police Officer" (IPO) statute 37 times in recent months to arrest homeless people.

In the case heard at CRC, security firm Portland Patrol Inc., whose contacts with the homeless have been nefarious through the years, were in the process of waking up the group, allegedly so the area could be cleaned and pressure washed. Items belonging to homeless people such as sleeping bags and blankets are being confiscated by the police and the private contractors. Getting those items back has been a difficult process. In April, Mayor Hales signed a contract with Pacific Patrol Services (PPS), another private security firm. PPS can go to various campsites, dismantle them and take homeless people's property. A volunteer with the Clackamas Service Center described people coming to her, crying over the loss of their few meager belongings (Portland Mercury, June 4). In some societies, this might be called theft, but in Portland, it is just part of a contract.

Since May 2014, the Bureau has been using IPO more frequently, and apparently always against homeless people. According to the Portland Tribune (July 24), "An officer who finds someone repeatedly urinating or drinking in public, or building an illegal shelter, has the authority to first warn and then cite the offender as an IPO violator for failing to heed the initial warning." Those receiving citations are expected to attend Community Court held at Bud Clark Commons. There they can be referred to various social services, and/or participate in community service, or they can fight the citation later in court. Officials are now complaining that while they recently made the deadline to appear at the Community Court shorter than previously, it doesn't appear to have worked and even fewer people are attending. Central Precinct Commander Bob Day said it would help if officers could "take offenders straight to Bud Clark Commons, where they could make an immediate choice to receive social service help or perform community service."

In February, Ibrahim Mubarak, the co-founder of downtown homeless rest area Right 2 Dream Too (R2DToo), was arrested under the Burnside Bridge where he was doing outreach to people sleeping there. After cops told him to leave the area, Mubarak was charged with trespassing and Interfering with a Police Officer. On July 16, a six person jury found him guilty of both charges. Judge Edward Jones sentenced him to 80 hours of community service. Inexplicably, Judge Jones mandated the community service requirement not be fulfilled by doing homeless outreach. Mubarak indicated he plans to appeal the verdict.

R2DToo remains at Fourth and Burnside, even though a move has been in the works since October (PPR #61). Developers pledged $846,000 towards a new location for the group but all the options, including 21 buildings and vacant lots, fell through. In June, the Portland Development Commission agreed to buy the current property from its owner, Michael Wright, for $1.5 million. R2DToo can remain on the property until late 2016 or early 2017. This "30 month option period" could pay Wright $10,000 per month which would allow the urban renewal agency to look for development options for this land plus would provide for a relocation plan for R2DToo (Oregonlive, June 23).

In yet another plan which will negatively impact those who are homeless and have low income, the City is working towards a plan to upgrade Old Town/China Town. In a recent hearing at City Hall, it was revealed that the plan will encourage market rate housing in that area with some significant rewards for developers. One woman testified during the hearing that tourists and visitors to the Lan Su Chinese Garden are afraid to venture any further than the garden as they are "scared." No doubt, of those who might look or act a bit different. The plan for this area will be voted upon in the near future.

Portland Copwatch (PCW) has been waiting since April to meet with Mayor Hales to discuss our concerns regarding Portland's current war on the homeless. Mayor Hales' police policy liaison, Deanna Wesson Mitchell, a former and probable future police officer, is insisting PCW meet with her. PCW has strongly indicated concern about Ms. Wesson Mitchell being in this position, which may play a part in her determination that only she will meet with us, even after Hales promised a meeting during a City Council hearing. We are awaiting further developments regarding this issue. Read more here.

  People's Police Report

September, 2014
Also in PPR #63

Third '14 PPB Shooting:
  Homeless Man

Judge Wants Annual DOJ Hearings
Board Finds Excessive Force
PRB Favors Cops Over Civilians
Updates PPR 63
  • Ex?-Nazi Cop Discipline Purged
  • Mohamud Appeal Denied
  • Mounted Patrol Update
  • Immigrant Holds on Hold
Training Council Looks af Force
Profiling Work Stumbles
War on the Poor Continues
Handcuffing 9 Yr Old Rattles City
Rulings on Cell Phones,
  No-Fly List

Copwatching May Day 2014
Quick Flashes
  • Taser Suit: $110K
  • OSP Cop Stole Gas
  • Ferguson Rocks Nation
Police Shootings in Oregon

Rapping Back

Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120
e-mail: copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org

Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.

People's Police Report #63 Table of Contents
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