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The Houseless Community vs. Winter, a Pandemic, and Sweeps

While life for those who are houseless has always been difficult and stressful, at this time it couldn't be worse. In the midst of a severe pandemic, cold and wet weather is here and sweeps have resumed, seriously impacting lives. After people were pushed out of Laurelhurst Park just before Thanksgiving, Mayor Wheeler called the sweep "humane" and one of his staff called the removal "compassionate" (Oregonlive, November 20 & 25). These responses could appear image of Nov 19, 2020 Oregonlive article Workers begin sweeping 
Portland's Laurelhurst Park homeless camp.as dictionary examples of the word "oxymoron."

On November 24, Rapid Response Bio Clean, a company which could never be described as humane or compassionate, started forcing out the campers who had been living at the park. Prior to that time, a group of volunteers had been assisting the houseless residents by providing clothes, shoes, sleeping bags, tents, hot food and medical help. They were also hauling away trash and helping those who wanted to move to do so. While reports indicated that the police were not present during this sweep, a source told Portland Copwatch there were several officers present and standing by.

It has been reported that recently there have been sweeps at other locations, primarily in SE Portland and in the St. Johns area. Reasons given for these sweeps is the accumulation of trash. Heather Hafer with Portland Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program said recently that about three camps per week are being "cleared," down from 50 before the pandemic (Oregonian, November 20).

The former jail that never was, Wapato, opened this fall as the Bybee Lakes Hope Center, a shelter for those experiencing homelessness. The facility opened with 84 beds for short term stays with plans to expand to 225 beds for longer term stays and with programs to address mental health issues, addictions and abuse related trauma (OPB, October 3). Concerns had been expressed that the facility is sited far from the downtown social services. According to the facilities website, there is public transportation within three blocks of the property. A representative of TriMet indicated that service there is not frequent and primarily runs during commuter hours.

  People's Police Report

January, 2021
Also in PPR #82

100+ Days of Protests and Police Violence
  Officer Indicted for On-Duty Assault with Vehicle
Portland Out of Compliance with DOJ Agreement
Oversight Board Continues; New System Voted In
No PPB Shootings but Two Incidents in Washington
  • State Deadly Force Incidents Pass Average Despite Pandemic
Outside Report Knocks '18 Shooting of Black Man
New Profililng Reports Show Same Disparities
• Houseless Community Faces Winter, COVID, Sweeps
Terror Task Force: Community Wants Full Withdrawal
Training Council Analyzes Use of Force
 • Second Round of Police Budget Cuts Scuttled
 • Police Contract Talks to Restart in January
 • Lawsuits Total Nearly $16 M in 28 Years
 • New "Brady Rule" Policy and Other Policies Posted
Rapping Back #82

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.

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