Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Be the first business on your block to kick a homeless person out of your doorway!

Two Portland Patrol Inc. security guards just walked into Street Roots, and asked two of our vendors (one of whom slept in our doorway last night) and then me if we wanted to sign up for a trespass enforcement agreement with the Portland Police Bureau. They are going door-to-door in the neighborhood.

The agreement would authorize the Portland Police Bureau to act as agents for the purpose of enforcing trespass laws on private property(s).

It offers a place to sign your name (as the owner, manager, leasee), location and to describe your place of business.

The agreement goes on to say individuals who are in or upon the above-described property without authorization may be arrested for Criminal Trespass II, or may be ejected from the property and excluded from entering or remaining in or upon the property described above indefinitely.

The next paragraph offers the opportunity for business owners or organization to take part in the agreement to punish poor people. It says, “Myself, or a person whom I have appointed, will respond to any and all subpoenas and subsequent Court appearances as required to prosecute any individuals arrested by officers of the Portland Police Bureau.”

Criminal Trespass II is a low-level misdemeanor under Oregon Law that comes with the possibility of a max fine of $1,250 dollars and a 30-day jail sentences. In reality, a person cited will most likely go to community court and is looking at doing community service. If you don’t appear in court you get a warrant for your arrest and the potential for a more serious misdemeanor charge for failure to appear. If you appear in court, but don’t do your community service, you’ll get a warrant and go straight to jail.

What does this mean? It means that the Portland Patrol funded by the Portland Business Alliance and the Portland Police Bureau continue to offer a stick without a carrot. They walk a big talk, and offer money for direct service in the guise of caring about homeless people. Where’s the carrots, folks?

Street Roots and others have kicked, screamed, reported and advocated over the years in a myriad of different ways, offering why criminalization is costly, ineffective, a form of torture and does nothing to solve the problem of homelessness.

Still, the reality is year after year after year, the police and now private security sweep, ticket, exclude and harass poor people, while bureaucrats continue to set on the sidelines, and offer the 10-year plan to end homelessness as step in the right direction.

We call bullshit, once again.


Patrick Nolen said...

one would think that you guys would be one of the places that they would not have asked. I would assume that everyone knows that you would not sign such an agreement.

Julius Lang said...

I agree with Patrick - I'm surprised that they asked you in the first place. Interesting, though. What kinds of carrots are you guys asking for?

Anonymous said...

We have signed an agreement with Portland Police. We do not want the homeless stealing from our recycling bins, breaking into our storage or harassing our paying tenants. There are too many homeless who do not follow the rules and should be locked up.

Anonymous said...

I get where you're coming from with the whole punishing poor people thing, but lets be real here. Maybe there are good homeless people who dont steal, defacate on private property, do drugs on private property, leave used needles on private property and generally leave all of their crap wherever they decided to post up for the night. However, if this is the case, you can blame the bad ones for ruining it for the rest of them. I am personally absolutely sick and tired of finding the seringes and hot piles in our business parking garage, not to mention these dudes scaring the shit out of the customers. This is not oppressive tactics, this is purely reactionary. If you really care about your homeless friend who sleeps in the doorway, tell him to clean up after himself and to get up early enough so as not to obstruct paying customers from entering places of business.