Lawyer: Laurelhurst homeless belongings unlawfully trashed
Michael Fuller, who made a last-ditch legal maneuver last week to halt the clearing of tents from Laurelhurst Park, says he surreptitiously attached Apple AirTag tracking devices to 16 personal items with permission from several campers ahead of the clean-up by city contractor Rapid Response Bio Clean.
Now, Fuller says, the wireless location signals show some of those possessions — including a pair of gloves, a speaker, two canvas paintings, and a French press — ended up at the Recology Oregon waste transfer station, 6161 N.W. 61st Ave.
"I practically begged the city not to move forward with the sweep to make sure property wasn't being destroyed, and the city ignored me. Now there's going to be legal consequences," Fuller said in an interview. "It completely vindicates what the homeless people have been saying all along."
Under Oregon law, Portland is required to collect and retain all property that is "recognizable as belonging to a person and that has apparent use" when cleaning up homeless encampments, according to OPB. The confiscated material is stored in a warehouse for 30 days, unless such items are unsanitary or have no obvious use.
Fuller says the items were clean and useful. If the city can't offer an explanation for the apparently trashed possessions, he says his clients will seek monetary compensation for their losses.
"Due to the tracking technology, we have proof positive that Rapid Response broke the law and took property that was perfectly clean and sanitary, and belonged to homeless people, and took them to the dump," he said.
The city's Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program said it had not received any "formal allegations or claims."
Their statement continued: "If or when we do receive complaints related to the collection of personal property, we will look into it — as we do with all complaints received."
A man who answered the phone at Rapid Response said the company doesn't comment to reporters.
Fuller hopes his covert action will convince the city to stop sweeping homeless camps: "We're going to keep doing this as long as these sweeps continue."
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