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Portland Police Arrest Homeless Protesters

OPB | May 12, 2008 5:11 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:16 a.m. | Portland, OR

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By Rob Manning

Over the weekend,  Portland police arrested a handful of people taking part in a round-the-clock homeless protest near city hall. Police threatened more with arrest, if the protesters don’t follow the city’s anti-camping and sidewalk ordinances.

At the same time, the homeless advocacy group Sisters of the Road, has withdrawn from a city committee geared toward balancing public safety and freedom of movement for homeless people.

Sisters’ advocates say that services have been too slow in coming – and that police have used city ordinances to crack down on the homeless.

Mayor Tom Potter says he won't sanction makeshift campgrounds in Portland.

Tom Potter: “They have a lot of problems in the homeless camps, around sanitation issues, around safety issues. The police tend to look the other way when they can, but when it becomes a problem, we have to deal with it, and we have to have a tool to do that with.”

Potter says the city has responded to short-term needs by funding an additional hundred or so shelter beds, but he says the long-term answer is to build more affordable housing.

Portland’s “Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness” has been praised as a national model for putting thousands of homeless people into permanent housing. But city officials say well over a thousand people still don't have adequate shelter on any given night in Portland.

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