SPIRITS OF THE DEAD STAND IN SILENT WITNESS AT STATE OF CITY ADDRESS
“It took one death to start the Egan Warming Centers. I wonder how many deaths it will take to modify the anti-sleeping laws? Why are we waking people up in the middle of the night when they’re doing nothing wrong, just sleeping? Where are they supposed to sleep? How are they supposed to be able to think straight the next day?” (SLEEPS Activist)
24 unhoused persons and 4 others stood silently at the back of the State of the City address Wednesday night at the Hult Center. Each carried the name of one of the 28 individuals who died, unhoused, in Eugene in 2012. Many were made up as zombies to draw attention both to the deaths and to the city’s zombie like speed in addressing shelter and other issues for those who are unhoused.
The City becomes very annoyed when we don’t recognize their accomplishments and they have certainly taken some steps. Eugene has a glorious past in terms of finding long term housing…but, frankly, I’m annoyed that they have dragged their feet on houseless issues. The Rv/camping program serves less than 100 people…and the Egan Centers are only open a few nights a year. It takes someone dying, I guess for them to do something…that is what started the Egan Warming Centers which are marvelous. Maybe if enough people die loudly enough we can get the sleeping ban modified. I mean, how much is it to ask the city to stop waking people up and telling them to go sleep somewhere its legal when there is no legal place to sleep? People need to sleep to be able to have the wherewithal to make sound decisions and get themselves off the street. It took one death for the Egan centers. I wonder how many deaths it will take to just stop waking people up?
The Mayor went back and shook hands with each of the activists. An overwhelming number of guests thanked SLEEPS activists for the work they are doing in highlighting the need for a safe and legal place to sleep. Many expressed an appreciation for SLEEPS’ creative and peaceful activism.