EUGENE, Ore. — Lane County Commissioners voted Wednesday morning to temporarily close the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza citing public and safety concerns.
Protesters had the day to pack up their belongings, and then a fence was put up around the plaza.
At 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, the barricades came out and Eugene Police officers assembled as members of the SLEEPS group chanted, “Let people sleep. Let people sleep.” Then the acting Lane County Administrator read instructions to the protesters and closed the plaza.
A representative for the group says a couple of the protesters planned to stay and knew they would be arrested. Those people then laid down in the center of the plaza.
“We strongly oppose shutting down Free Speech Plaza, and beforehand we checked to see who was willing to be cited and arrested,” said Michael Carrigan with Community Alliance of Lane County.
The first to be arrested was a man.
“We didn’t know that person, and our concern was does that person have the support they need,” said Carrigan.
Another man and woman were arrested. Finally, a very outspoken member of the SLEEPS group, Angie Bartow, was also hauled away.
“Four people were arrested. One was taken to Lane County Jail on charges of criminal trespass. Three others were cited and released at the scene for criminal trespass,” said Lieutenant David Natt with the Eugene Police Department.
“Free Speech Plaza should not be shut down. I really applaud the folks that were arrested,” said Carrigan.
A number of the protesters didn’t go down without a fight, shouting obscenities at officers. Some with SLEEPS say that takes away from their message.
“Sometimes folks forget we are here for a protest. We are here to keep Free Speech Plaza open, not necessarily yell at the police,” said Carrigan.
After the arrests, SLEEPS continued to pack up and head out knowing anyone re-entering would be arrested. And with the eviction, it was on to a new location.
“This is not an end to people should have a right to sleep safely,” said Carrigan.
EPD released the names of those arrested and cited.
Arrested for Criminal Trespass II: Michael Patrick McFadden, Jr.
Cited and Released Criminal Trespass II: Angela Nicole Bartow, Michael Edward Gannon and Ashley Marie Dicharry.