Copwatch - a project of Peace and Justice Works


Site Navigation

About us
People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Cool links
Other Information
Contact info


There's No Carpet Under Which to Sweep Homeless People

Just weeks before the scheduled Hood to Coast Race in late August, the Portland Police, at the request of the Mayor, planned to conduct sweeps along the 21-mile Springwater corridor starting August 1. This corridor, under the purview of the Bureau of Parks and Recreation, runs through Portland, Milwaukie and Gresham. According to the Oregonian (June 16) the Mayor asked the police to first focus on the corridor in the Lents and Brentwood-Darlington neighborhoods where an estimated 250 homeless people were camping. After pushback from advocates including the Oregon Law Center, which has successfully won lawsuits around the anti-camping ordinance (PPR #57), the Mayor delayed the "clean-up" until September 1.

Despite the relaxed rules on camping, Pacific Patrol Association, private contractors hired by the City, swept 21 camps per month during the 5 month test period--only a few less than the 25/month in the prior 7 months (Portland Mercury, August 10).

A policy allowing camping on City property, specifying it should not be on park land or in groups of more than six people (PPR #68), was revoked by the Mayor in early August. National organizations which had looked to Portland's "Safe Sleep" policy as a model began rethinking their praise.

Springwater campers say they received warnings and some sweeps occurred as early as May (Oregonian, July 15). Some people returned and more moved in. According to the July 13 Willamette Week, the Springwater trail is home to about 500 people, with most living in the two mile area between SE 82nd and 111th Avenues. They estimate it is perhaps the largest homeless encampment in the country.

In response to complaints from neighbors and businesses and concerns about protecting nature, the police will move out people camping there. Businesses with which the city contracts will pick up items left behind. Many campers will lose their belongings. In the past, homeless people who have been displaced have lost medications, IDs, tents, sleeping bags and other gear. The Mayor asked social services to provide resources for the campers before the sweeps begin, but there are not enough shelter beds for homeless people in the area. Women, women with children, couples, and people with pets face barriers to finding beds. There have been efforts to open places to meet demand. The Peace Shelter added 180 beds for women and couples to their existing 80 beds for men, but that shelter closed recently (Portland Tribune, May 24).

Officials have been looking at other options. In July the County converted an unused sheriff's headquarters into a temporary shelter with about 200 beds to cover the loss of beds at Peace Shelter. On August 10, the City voted 3-2 to turn a former industrial site into a shelter with services incorporated in a large campus. This could pose problems as the site may be an environmental hazard. Besides, people need homes and the City should focus on permanent housing options.

Meanwhile, Portland activists were working on a number of options for the folks in the Springwater area, including an "economic refugee camp," setting up a tent city in the Mayor's posh SE Portland neighborhood, and, in a move that might lead to unintended consequences (including police violence), standing their ground against law enforcement.

  People's Police Report

September, 2016
Also in PPR #69

Police Shoot At, Miss One
  Other Oregon Shootings--2 Per Month
DOJ Staff, Board Ask for Divorce
Chief Shoots Friend, Steps Down
Review Board Faces Changes
Police Oversight Report Has Less Info
May Day 2016: Small Police Presence
Sheriff Staton Hits the Trail
Profiling: "Gang" Arrests, Stop Data
Cops Plan More Homeless Sweeps
Training Council Recommendations
Mayor Secretly Negotiates Contract
PPB Policy Review at Slow Crawl
Updates PPR 69
  • PPB May Let Cops See Body Cam Footage
  Police Use Pole Cameras
  Copwatchers Receive Settlements
  Entrapped Man Appeals Terror Ruling
Legal Briefs: Evidence, Phones, Cops
Quick Flashes PPR 69
  Officer in DUI Flips Car in Crash
  Cop Sprays Dog Walker
Rapping Back #69

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 #69 Table of Contents
Back to Portland Copwatch home page
Peace and Justice Works home page
Back to top