Three days after eviction notices were issued, city crews began to clear a longstanding homeless camp at Laurelhurst Park in Southeast Portland on Thursday, July 29.
Employees with multiple agencies and bureaus within the city arrived at the park around 8 a.m. There, they were greeted by dozens of homeless advocates attempting to stop the sweep. Park rangers arrived in order to help move the crowd while crews continued clearing the area. Police officers were on the scene to assist if the need arose.
As of 9 a.m., the situation was relatively tame. Later in the afternoon, police confirmed that one person had been detained. It's unclear what charges the person may face.
Personal belongings that are collected during a sweep are kept at a storage facility for 30 days. Information on how to retrieve personal belongings can be found here.
The sweep comes after city officials struggled for months to find a solution for both the housed and unhoused people living at a Laurelhurst camp. Sunday morning, July 25, the city posted notices that the campers had 72 hours to leave.
Although neighbors have sent in numerous reports about the camp, the city cited a different reason for posting the notices: a city contractor who was at the park to service porta-potties reportedly witnessed several guns being pulled and violence threatened.
The Laurelhurst Neighborhood Safety Association said several people have been attacked and harassed by campers outside their homes and in the park. One neighbor told KOIN 6 News they hear screaming coming from the camp at night and have made countless reports about outdoor fires.
"There's garbage everywhere," said TJ Browning, the safety committee chair. "Sharps containers were put in the camps. There are used syringes everywhere and it isn't all campers. But because it's so unsafe for anybody to go into that camp that even if neighbors wanted to help, how do you identify who is safe and who isn't safe?"
When KOIN 6 News went there Monday, July 26, there are rows of tents, cars, RVs, garbage and other items that span two streets. The city said it's dedicated numerous resources to picking up trash and hazardous materials.
A spokesperson for Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's office said every person in the state coping with mental struggles should have help ready and available for when they need it.
"Governor Brown believes that every person in Oregon grappling with a serious mental illness deserves access to the services they need, when they need them, regardless of their income level or background," Deputy Communications Director Charles Boyle told KOIN 6 News Monday. "The governor worked with the Legislature to pass a $350 million groundbreaking investment and system reforms this session, and she continues to stand ready to work with willing local government leaders to address long-term issues of housing, homelessness and behavioral health in our communities."
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.
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