“At least 75% of the homeless living here need some on-going mental illness care. These problems are exacerbated in this situation,” said Andrew King this afternoon at city hall plaza where he is a “safety team” volunteer on the evening shift – from 4:00 pm until 1:00 am daily.
King, a second cousin of mystery writer Stephen King, has been volunteering at the Camp for the past week – where his major task has been resolving interpersonal issues. Turf wars are among the most common issues King has to resolve.
“This is a perfect example of what protesting should be. It is truly community helping each other rather than a policed approach. Police drive by every hour or so to maintain civil control,” King said police officers have told him. However, for people suffering from mental illness police presence can be an intimidating experience. That’s because of previous traumatic experiences with the Portland Police Department in outdoor camping locations across the city.
“There is no requirement here for police presence outside of a few isolated incidents,” said King. Many of these Campers were already dealing with mental illness before they became homeless. Following the pandemic crisis, homeless resources have become non-existent King said. “They dried up.” For the most part, the community here is resolving it. This statement from an on-site volunteer despite a nefarious press release issued by the Chief of Police Frank Clark of the Portland Police Department and city manager Jon Jennings Saturday, August 1st morning to which mhn.com responded in a previous post herein.
The Portland Police Department press release claimed “that police officers have responded to the camp to address reported drug use, overdoses, indecent conduct, fights and other criminal and violent behavior that now includes gunfire….” crimes undocumented and unsubstantiated in its press release – charges that mhn.com contested because of the lack of evidence in that press release issued on Saturday morning. (The still at-large person who fired a gun on Congress Street Saturday morning was not associated in any way with the campers at city hall plaza). Those alleged charges contradict the claim from King that Portland Police have no need to appear at the Camp except for isolated instances. A Department spokesman urged mhn.com to obtain supporting documents from the courthouse yesterday, although courthouses are closed on Saturday. Furthermore, it is incumbent upon the accuser to provide his evidence against the accused. Law School 101.
King spent about five months living in the Oxford Street Shelter because he was homeless. “It was a terrible experience. The City run Shelter is poorly run, there is a lack of training of staff, with no clear direction from management at the highest levels of city government. King said he wrote multiple reports for staff incompetence, failures and violations of civil rights. “The staff treats everyone like shit, but some of them are too inarticulate to complain about the conditions and treatment there,” said King, a computer science major in college.
King, whose passion is writing, has written his first novel “Trip Back Home” a novel based on his life. It is currently in the hands of an agent who is looking for a publisher for it. He said that his second cousin Stephen King spends most of his time in the Tampa Bay area of Florida these days. When he was younger, Andrew spent a lot of time at his Bangor home with family members, including his now deceased father, a first cousin of the famous writer.
“People who live in the city hall plaza camp are truly stuck in a vicious cycle and there’s no way out for them,” said King. “That’s why I’m here.”
Please visit previous post herein for the Portland Police Department’s launch of a nasty PR campaign against the homeless campers at city hall plaza.