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PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JOSH KULLA - Craig A., a homeless veteran who declined to give his last name, sits among his half-packed belongings as he prepares to move his tent away from the Springwater Corridor Trail in southeast Portland on Monday, Sept. 1.A relatively small squad of Portland police officers and park rangers were on hand Thursday along the Springwater Trail cleanup event in Portland, which focused on the part of the trail that intersects with Southeast Flavel Avenue in outer Southeast Portland near the Gresham border.


Things remained mostly calm during the morning hours as campers worked to dismantle their tents and bundle things they need. One camper did have an impassioned moment, yelling that no one was helping him and that if anyone tries to get near him he’d “cut their hands off with a machete,” but he quickly settled down.

Most campers still left on the trail say they intend to leave, but aren’t sure where they’ll go.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - 25-year-old Matt Stump has been camping on the Springwater Corridor Trail and says he's not sure where he will move. He added that he thinks that people on the trail caused the cleanup. “We’re figuring that out right now as we speak,” says Matt Stump, a 25-year-old who has lived on the trail since October.

He says the packing wasn’t going too bad, and he had friends there to help out. He says he understands why the cleanup is happening despite not knowing what’s ahead in his own future.

Asked why he was homeless, he replied, “To be honest, drug addiction.”

Ask a Portland police officer, and they’ll say it’s not a sweep. That is to say, officers maintain they’re not going in and sweeping the homeless campers off the trail as though they’re bugs on a fine rug.

“I want to emphasize that this is not a ‘police homeless sweep’ as it is so often portrayed ... our role is extremely limited,” Sgt. Peter Simpson, media relations for Portland Police Bureau, said in an email to media outlets regarding the Sept. 1 cleanup.

The Gresham Police Department did not assist in the clear-out along the trail, and other than their usual policies, nothing was done differently.

“We will continue our normal patrols of the trail to keep everyone safe,” said John Rasmussen, the PIO for the Gresham police.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A homeless couple moves their belongings along the Springwater Corridor Trail Thursday morning while other campers gather in the background. The city of Gresham recently began addressing the issue of homelessness in East Multnomah County with two new resources. A contract is being maintained with Central City Concern, which works with officers to clean up campsites, while Newton Gborway was brought on to serve as the homeless services specialist.

The city will allow low-impact, small camps to be set up along the trail. OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A homeless man named Logan peers through the brush surrounding his Springwater Corridor Trail camp site in southeast Portland. He said that politics definitely played a role in the timing of Thursday's cleanup of homeless camp sites. These are seen as any that have a small number of occupants, are respectful of the surrounding area, don’t put up permanent structures and clean up after themselves. When camps are identified along the trail as needing to be removed, officers contact the occupants and give 24 to 48 hours to vacate.

“Local campers are always respectful and adhere to our requests when they’re asked to vacate the property for cleanup,” said Dan Estes, a Gresham officer on the Neighborhood Enforcement Team. “We want to continue this relationship, because the way we are currently doing things is working for both sides.”

Whether the Portland clear-out sends an increased number of homeless people into Gresham, the policies will remain the same, as the city is confident it can maintain things on its end. ‚¬€1

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A homeless man who goes by the name of Chili talks with a friend along the Springwater Corridor Trail Thursday as the City of Portland began a cleanup of homeless camp sites. The original cleanup was to start on Aug. 1, but was moved to this week after backlash from advocates and a potential lawsuit by the Oregon Law Center. Social service workers and advocates said a quick cleanup would be detrimental to campers, and that they needed more time to find each individual a place to go.

But Portland Mayor Charlie Hales’ office maintains that the cleanup was never going to take a day.

“The only thing that changed from the original plan was the date that campers would be formally asked to leave,” says Sara Hottman, communication director for Hales. “It would be impossible to clean all 14 miles of Portland’s Springwater (Corridor) in one day.”

Officials estimate the cleanup could take weeks or even months.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Craig A., a homeless veteran, sits in his half-dismantled camp site along the Springwater Corridor Trail in southeast Portland. Johnson Creek is in the background.

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