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SLEEPS Packs Up

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EUGENE, Ore. — The Lane County Courthouse is no longer being occupied by the group SLEEPS.

Wednesday afternoon, protesters broke down more than a dozen tents.

Members of SLEEPS, which stands for Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep, announced a victory. They say a number of goals were achieved during their camp-in and say they challenged a number of constitutional issues. But their message on the right to sleep in public is not over.

SLEEPS says its original objective turned into a few different fights for constitutional rights, so it set up 16 tents for the last two days.

“There were several points made about our constitutional rights and the legal rights of people,” said SLEEPS supporter Anne Kelvin.

Members say those points covered the First Amendment, the right to free speech and protest at all hours with no permits use tents as symbols, as well as the right to sleep in public–the 8th amendment.”

“I think there was some consideration of the legal aspect that went into decision making by city leaders,” Kelvin said.

But now it’s back to basics, lifting the ban the city has on overnight camping.

“Until we get further programs down the road, we need to allow these people to at least sleep,” Kelvin said.

Over the last two days, EPD did communicate the wishes of the county that protesters and campers leave, but police say they knew what was at hand.

“We understand that this is a big issue, we know that there are lawsuits being filed around the country, so we want to make sure that as much as possible that we do things in the right way and the safest way possible,” said Lt. Eric Klinko, Eugene Police Department.

As SLEEPS packed up and headed out, members reflected beyond a victory for constitutional rights on a positive working relationship with law enforcement.

“I haven’t come down here and tried to preach. I’ve asked if we can resolve this without law enforcement intervention absolutely for both that’s the best results, but I know sometimes that isn’t possible,” Klinko said.

But Wednesday, SLEEPS members say it was possible, and now both sides will move forward.

“This protest was the sleeps issue and it’s not going to be dropped,” Kelvin said.

SLEEPS announced a new location where it plans to hold similar protests in hopes of changing or modifying Eugene’s camping code. It’s now set up nearby at 8th and High Street.

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