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.