EUGENE, Ore. — Many homeless say they are happy with the vote to move forward on the pilot project. But they say that still doesn’t solve the immediate homeless problem, especially since it’s wintertime.
A number of them are staging a protest at the Lane County Courthouse, urging the city to lift the camping ban.
The protest began Monday night with tents going up in Free Speech Plaza in front of the courthouse.
EPD stood watch, talking with some of the members, trying to figure out how to proceed.
“We need to be out here. We need to get their attention. We want them to lift the camping ban so that the 1,500 people who are sleeping out every night will not be awakened by the police,” said protest organizer Jean Stacey.
The group SLEEPS, which stands for Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep, is staging this protest and is an outgrowth of Occupy Eugene.
“We found that the normal protest routes aren’t working. We have to commit civil disobedience. If the council won’t change the rules, then we have to contest them in court,” Stacey said.
EPD is monitoring the situation and says it’s talking with the Occupy group to try to come up with a solution to manage the protest.
In general, county code states people can voice their opinions in Free Speech Plaza between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., and that’s why EPD is looking at how to proceed.
“Obviously no one is going to want to sleep here forever,” said Sabra Marcroft.
“If we leave here, we will be to a different site on a different piece of public property to continue this until we get the changes that we want,” Stacey said.
Sleeps say it doesn’t know how long it plans to stay out front the county courthouse.