“We are going to stay here until things are done. I don’t care who we piss off,” said Christan Sark, 19, earlier today at the homeless camp on the plaza in front of city hall. Sark, who is newly pregnant, spent last night in a tent with her boyfriend. It was a rainy and cold night for the two who helped several people whose tents collapsed around midnight. “We warmed them up with blankets,” said Christan. Around 11:30 pm, she led a march of about 60 to Deering Oaks Park and back again to the plaza at city hall.
Meanwhile, a Portland Police vehicle sat across Congress Street for hours – watching the group and taking photographs of the Camp and the people in it. When mhn.com began to cross Congress Street to talk to the officer in the car, he took off – preventing mhn.com from asking him why all the photographs. Why all the photographs?
Around noontime, six police officers came to the city hall Camp trying to “escalate the situation” according to a witness. “One of them said it wasn’t safe here because there was illegal drug use here,” the witness said. “Not true,” he said. “There are no illegal drugs here.”
Every few minutes one or several Portland Police cars drove slowly past the Camp – making its presence known in an effort to intimidate Campers. Someone, presumably in city hall, cut the outdoor power off so that Campers cannot charge their cell phones any more. That change was discovered early in the day. It’s a slow process of intimidation in which the Portland Police Department has the lead role.
“We are all waiting for the Police Department to come and shove us all down to the point they’ve instilled so much fear in us, we have to go,” said Andrea Merrill-Bisson this afternoon. Andrea is one of about 150 people camped out at Deering Oaks Park because they have no place to go. The Oxford Street Shelter is closed to new people she said. Food delivery from Preble Street Resource Center ended last Friday. She was told the reason for the end of the food delivery program was because of the accumulation of trash in the area. Trash appeared to be neatly accumulated in trash bags in designated spots, contrary to what the Portland Police Department has charged. Andrea has camped out for the past twenty months; “winters are brutal” she said.
“They will keep coming here and keep messing with us until we don’t want to be here and find another place to move,” Andrea says. “And the process starts all over again.”
“We are here for the long haul. We will be here into next week” said Christan Sark. Campers expected an appearance again today by Mayor Kate Snyder and District 1 city councilor Belinda Ray. As of this afternoon late, neither coward showed up.
As reported previously, the city continues to fail to address any responses to the Black Lives Matter protests that engulfed Portland recently in a meaningful way.