Occupy Eugene to Be Evicted

Late in the evening on Monday, December 19, a man who had apparently been in a fight was found unconscious at the OE occupation site. An OE medic performed CPR on the man, who was then taken to a hospital. The next day, the city council held an emergency meeting about this. This certainly isn’t the first time in Eugene’s history that a homeless man has been beaten up, but it appears to be the first time the City Council has considered such an event important enough to justify an emergency meeting. They voted 5-2 that the police should close down the occupation site “soon as practicable”. The decision may have been influenced by a letter that the Eugene Police Employees Association sent to Mayor Piercy, in which among other things, they claimed that “There is open drug use and distribution. There is prostitution of minors. There are used hypodermic needles on the ground inside and outside the tents.” I have been to the occupation site, and I have not seen any of these things. (That’s right, kids, the police are not our friends.)

The following morning OE sent out this press release:

    OE medics help to save another life at W/J Park despite generator noise hampering efforts; 25 OE organizers arrive within minutes to help keep site calm for Eugene Police and Medics

    On December 19th at approximately midnight a brief altercation occurred at the Occupy Eugene site. An extremely drunk individual with a heart condition came onto the OE site and started a fight with an OE occupant. Peacekeeper calls for de-escalation assistance went unheard because of the noise made by the four generators which now surround the site since high-powered security light towers were installed last Friday. Apparently Eugene Police were on site; the unconscious and injured instigator required CPR which the OE medic administered as EPD arrived on the scene. The man is in stable condition.

    This is the 5th time that OE first responders have helped to save a life.

    More than two dozen Occupy organizers and supporters arrived within minutes of notification. After establishing facts regarding the situation, they coordinated a peaceful vigil at the crime scene. Members of OE involved in the incident were given full community support. OE police liaisons provided relevant information to EPD officers. Police Chief Kerns, Lieutenant Kamkar, and City Councilor Ortiz were also on site. Lieutenant Kamkar did not expect any arrests as of 1:30am.

    This press release has been approved by the General Assembly of Occupy Eugene.

After the council’s decision, OE released this:

    Occupy Eugene Responds to Eviction by City Council

    Occupy Eugene is saddened by the City Council’s decision to evict protestors from Washington-Jefferson Park only 5 days before Christmas. The emergency meeting and decision to evict represents a clear betrayal of the collaborative relationship established between OE and the City.

    This decision will serve as further motivation to protesters here in Eugene and around the country to continue to struggle against unjust laws and regulations that propagate social and economic injustice.

    Occupy Eugene is grateful that some attempt was made to accommodate the immediate need for a safe place for homeless folks currently living at Washington Jefferson park by expanding car camping. However, this limited action will have little long-term impact on the problem of homelessness in Eugene and does nothing to replace the ability of the community to come together to solve its own problems.

    Over the course of the occupation in Washington Jefferson Park, the citizens of Eugene, homeless and not, have created a community to address immediate problems and root causes of homelessness.

    For the first time many of Eugene’s homeless population have had a consistent, safe place to sleep, three meals a day, medical care, job skills training, and a community to engage with based around mutual respect and equality. We invite the City of Eugene to take up a similar strategy in their attempts to address homelessness.

    As was reiterated in the City Council meeting by Mayor Kitty Piercy, we hope that the eviction will happen peacefully without any force or violence. The official Occupy Eugene response to the eviction by the City of Eugene will be nonviolent.

    The Occupation will continue with or without camp.

    This press release has been approved by the general assembly of Occupy Eugene.

One point that needs to be made here is that Washington-Jefferson Park has long been a high-crime area. (It is the one area of Eugene where I do not really feel safe at night.) Some members of OE initially opposed occupying this park for precisely this reason. It was only after the city had blocked OE from other sites that the decision was made to go there.

Whatever happens at this point, Occupy Eugene will continue to grow.

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