Montavilla Initiative Call to Action

CALL TO ACTION WEDNESDAY, October 3, 2018 2 - 5PM

CALL TO ACTION WEDNESDAY, October 3, 2018 2 - 5PM    

CITY COUNCIL MEETING

**PLEASE JOIN US TO SUPPORT OUR HOUSELESS BROTHERS AND SISTERS**

We are protesting the increased policing, sweeping, and exclusions of houseless people. It is NOT okay for City resources to aid and abet anti-houseless vigilante groups, nor for the police to collude with these groups. Sweeping people with nowhere to go causes nothing but trauma and instability. We DEMAND that the sweeps and stepped up Policing stop immediately. We DEMAND the City investigate City entities and employees helping a hate group** we have documented to target people based on their unhoused status. We DEMAND that the City allow houseless communities to establish self-run rest areas and tiny house villages. We DEMAND real solutions to today’s housing crisis. 

For months, a small vigilante group has been patrolling the Montavilla area, video-stalking neighbors living on the streets or camping in the area. Their public denigration of houseless people has fostered a culture of anti-houseless violence. Recently, women arriving at a local church for meals and social support were filmed, harassed, and called “whore” while accessing critical services. Two guests were recently physically assaulted after leaving the church. To put it simply, this anti-houseless wave of hate is targeting Portland’s most vulnerable community members – people with nowhere else to sleep but the streets. A recently released manifesto and petition by this group criticizes the City’s response to homeless camps. And they want the city to further their agenda by dedicating even more resources toward criminalizing our houseless neighbors. They plan to be out in force on Wednesday at City Hall to demand that the City further increase anti-houseless policing and sweeps. 

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KOIN TV’s coverage over the last two weeks has elevated this hate group by giving them a platform to the city of Portland ( Koin TV, News at 5 9/12/2018 ; Koin TV, Enough Is Enough 9/17/2018;  Koin TV, Neighbors Concerned about Crime… 9/21/2018 ). Following the first news segment, Portland Police and ODOT contractors blanketed the 205 bike path (Thursday, 9/13), overwhelming unhoused neighbors with tickets, arrests, exclusions, and evictions. Sgt. Randy Tieg has expressed his support for this group, writing to tell them that he sent “his” police out on the bike path with ATVs ( (Montavilla Facebook Group: 9/22/2018 9:40 PM ). The head of Police Union, Darly Turner invited this vigilante group to the Police Association to discuss future plans on Wednesday, Sept 26th and promised follow up meetings in October and November (Montavilla Facebook Group: 9/21/2018 3:55 PM ; Mercury, Portland Police Union…. 09/28/2018 ; Woolington, Portland Police Union… 7/17/2018). These vigilantes have even boasted that they received funding from the Office of Community and Civic Life (Formerly ONI) to train with Portland Police officers on how to carry out their oppressive neighborhood patrols and negatively document the activities of unhoused residents (“Update on Montavilla Neighborhood Foot Patrols”05/22/ 2018 Web page). In short, this group is receiving City funds and City services to help target and demean houseless neighbors -- with the approval of Police Officers and their Union. 

By the City’s own data, there has been a dramatic increase in ticketing, arrests, sweeps and exclusions of the houseless in the last two years, even as the number of campsites has remained the same (Woolington, Half the Arrests 6/13/2018; Neighborhood Development, Examining Local Patterns 2018 http://civicplatform.org/cities/portland/neighborhood ). This shows that sweeps and criminalization don’t work. But more sweeps and criminalization DOES increase the stigma, distress, destitution, and torment of our most vulnerable community members. 

It is not a crime to be homeless. However, the city has set up rules that prohibit the houseless from surviving in public spaces (ACLU Oregon, Decriminalizing Homelessness 2017). The City is also helping business groups to fashion regulations in special “economic zones” that escalate discriminatory rules targeting homeless people and enforce those rules with private security forces (ESD Service Plan 2018; https://portlandoregon.gov/citycode/article654126; Berkeley Law Policy Advocacy Clinic, Homeless Exclusion Districts 2018). This is not unsimilar to the extra-legal harassment unleashed by vigilantes. Disgruntled business owners can now treat more simple acts of survival in these zones as crimes in ways not allowed by the general laws of our country.  

Whether issued by public or private police - tickets and exclusions often become warrants and arrests when unhoused people cannot pay or contest them. Arrests then become incarceration (ACLU Oregon, Decriminalizing Homelessness 2017). When taken together, these unjust punishments become an unbearable barrage of stress which wears down, degrades, and oppresses. Police and sweeps contribute to a spiraling merry-go-round of expense, targeting, punishment, incarceration, mental anguish – all of which make exiting homelessness that much harder (Kaytee Evans and Katherine Lindsey, 2018. The Economic Impacts ). Our laws and private regulations contribute to a general attitude that being houseless in public spaces is wrong – therefore it is no surprise that these attitudes are increasingly reflected in the rise of grassroots hate in East and Southeast Portland. 

We can do better. Come out and lend your voice to counter the anti-homeless hate groups who plan to demonstrate outside City Hall on Wednesday Oct 3 from 2-5 PM (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/enough-is-enough-pdx-city-hall-picket-and-banner-holding-tickets-50315265313). 

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** “The Southern Poverty Law Center defines a hate group as an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”  

https://www.splcenter.org/20171004/frequently-asked-questions-about-hate-groups#hate%20group

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 https://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2018/09/28/23242007/portland-police-union-and-neighborhood-groups-clash-over-wapato-shelter

 https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2018/07/portland_police_union_leader_s.html