Activists Plan Protest of ODOT Sweeps
Saturday, January 09, 2016
Dozens are expected to protest the ODOT’s “sweeping” policy, in which police or security forces make homeless people move from their spots on the sidewalk. According to activists, the homeless are often harassed under this policy, and homeless people's property has been seized many times by the DOT and other government bodies.
“We are trying to Stop ODOT Sweeping of Homeless Camps and Campers and trying to stop their on-going war on the homeless,” Kif Davis, an organizer of the protest, told Go Local. “ODOT are a huge barricade between housing agencies and street outreach workers trying to house homeless people because ODOT sweeps the homeless out. Then the outreach people have to go look for them somewhere else.”
According to a Facebook page promoting the protest, the group already presented the ODOT with a written list of concerns, but sweeps and similar actions have not stopped.
“Because we want to ensure that ODOT hears us loud and clear, we’re not content to drop a letter in the mail,” the Facebook page reads. “Instead, we’re assembling in-person, to present a single demand: STOP THE SWEEPS!”
What Do They Want?
According to organizers, protesters plan to assemble in front of the ODOT building in Portland. While there, they will “announce” their arrival with chants and signs. They will also distribute copies of their concerns and demands to staffers and other passer-bys.
“We are trying to stop all the sweeps and get them to start having teams of outreach workers go along with them to homeless camps and offer the homeless various services, housing options,” Davis said. “Clean-Up the camp sites of garbage, trash, etc., and not steal people's personal belongings, or issue citations through the police for trespassing or camping.”
The group has published a list of demands from the ODOT. They include new treatment for homeless citizens and a promise not to sweep homeless encampments during certain times. Read the full list of demands below:
1) The homeless are treated as economic refugees, and not as criminals or trespassers.
2) No encampments will be cleared during the months of December, January, and February, or when the National Weather Service issues a severe weather alert.
3) Notices are posted 72-hours in advance, communicated orally to camp residents, made available online, and distributed to various social service agencies and homeless advocates.
4) A social service worker or homeless advocate is present during the posting of notices, and these notices reflect the actual date of “sweep operations”.
5) Law enforcement is mobilized as a last resort. Social workers and homeless advocates are invited to intervene in situations where a person is not able or willing to vacate an encampment.
6) The use of prison inmates to assist in the “cleaning” of encampments, is suspended.
7) The recovery and return of identification, documents, and medication are prioritized.
8) An inventory of personal possessions is created and signed by an ODOT representative and a homeless advocate or social worker.
9) All cleaning, recovery, and storage fees are waived in consideration of personal poverty.
10) Personal property is held for 30-days at a centrally located facility, which is accessible via public transportation, and open for “regular” business hours.
11) Personal property is returned upon the receipt of a reasonably matching description of items lost, and all unclaimed property is distributed to homeless organizations and advocates.
12) A list of community complaints and/or ODOT concerns related to encampments is made available at the request of interested parties.
13) ODOT property is clearly marked, and where practical, secured with a fence or other recognizable obstacle, to avoid unintended intrusion.
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