EUGENE, Ore. — They may have been cleared out of the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza, but SLEEPS protesters don’t plan on disappearing anytime soon. After they were ordered to leave, several protesters began setting up tents in front of the old federal building downtown.
Organizers say that before people can pitch tents, they have to sign an agreement stating that there are no warrants out for their arrest, they are not under the influence of drugs, and they do not have any weapons. SLEEPS protester Angie Bartow says that this was a necessary measure for the group.
“Not to say that we want to exclude anyone, but this is not just a homeless free-for-all,” says Bartow. “We’re fighting for everyone’s rights, all the unhoused. We’re fighting for everyone’s rights. However, since it is a protest, we heed to have the moral and legal ground to stand on.”
Organizers say that if they’re evicted from this location, they already have other sites lined up.
The group’s satellite camp off Chambers Road and the Northwest Expressway, which occupants have dubbed “Whoville,” remains unaffected by the changes downtown, but it has grown to at least 30 tents; that’s an increase from about a dozen tents on Friday. Although there’s no indication of how long protesters will be allowed to say there, they say they’ll be ready to move at a moment’s notice.
“This camp here has 35 people,” said Whoville spokesperson Tin Man. ”We’re going to split into a minimum of six camps of five people.”
The city and county both own part of the vacant lot where Whoville is set up.