Asides

FINALLY!  CITY ACKNOWLEDGES SLEEPS HAS RIGHT TO PROTEST ON CITY LAND

Kaufman tentskaufman group

After being unceremoniously kicked off City land twice and county land three times, the City has now advised SLEEPS that their legal team has switched position and agrees activists have the right to protest on public land. They also advised us that, even though Eugene municipal code forbids the use of tents, that they can now accept that they are “symbols” and thus free speech as SLEEPS has maintained.

It is unknown whether or not SLEEPS Activists plan to sue the city over the previous unconstitutional evictions of the unhoused protestors as part of their overarching legal challenges of laws that discriminate against the unhoused.   The Civil Liberties Defense Center is currently developing a series of legal challenges focused on anti-sleeping laws as well as those used to harass those who are unhoused out of the downtown area.

This change in policy is an important step forward in SLEEPS’ campaign to effect meaningful change in Eugene’s anti-sleeping laws.  “We were pretty surprised when we first started out to protest that federal, county and city governments all violated our rights to assemble and our free speech rights.  We’ve had to spend several weeks now just protesting for the right to protest!”

With progress on the Federal and City level, on Monday SLEEPS will take a fourth “whack” at the County’s unconstitutional restrictions on free speech in order to be able to launch it’s protest against the county’s anti-sleeping laws.

Both City and County laws criminalize sleeping with Eugene’s first offense fine set at $200 for the use of a blanket, sleeping bag or tent on any public property or even in your own legally parked vehicle.  There is nowhere to sleep.  The anti-sleeping laws kill and have to be changed and SLEEPS is working to do just that.

DSCN9567DSCN9577The Community Gardens were meant to help federal prisioners re-enter society and be productive and to grow food for those in poverty.  Instead the city, carefully guarding news of the sale it until it was almost over, sold it to a bank.

Today the unhoused protestors are “taking back the land”. This is now both a protest site, protected under our First Amendment rights to free speech and a place for the unhoused to sleep, protected under the 4th and 8th Amendments.

On Wednesday, December 26 at 2:30 PMSLEEPS moved tents from its old federal building Federal Plaza site to the Community Gardens several blocks away. A portion of the unhoused protestors remained at the Federal Plaza site despite failing to receive a temporary injunction to continue challenging what it considers the GSA’s unconstitutional permitting process and curfews, while others moved to the Community Gardens.

The 2 acre Gardens, located next to the new Federal Building were recently sold by the City of Eugene to Northwest Community Credit Union.

The sale of the site was hidden from the public until it was almost over as a means of preventing public outcry.  According to EW, “…. the Courthouse Garden, which this sale will destroy, was one of the most inclusive and collaborative projects, across economic, social, political lines, in recent Eugene history.”

Envisioned by Judge Ann Aiken as a place for reentering federal prisoners to work to grow organic food for the poor, the Garden joined those prisoners, parole officers, U of O students and at risk youth in a cross-cultural program that produced over 6,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables each year for those in need, a significant portion for those who are unhoused.  Beneficiaries included the Mission, Relief Nursery, New Roads among other.

Since we can no longer have food from here, at least we can use it as a safe and legal place to sleep.  Eugene is unable to provide shelter to 1500 of its 2400 unhoused citizens.  The 9th Circuit Court, under Jones vs. LA, ordered LA to allow those who are unhoused to sleep from 9PM to 6AM on public land.  This land is in the 9th Circuit Court and is underused City land during this season, under contract to the U of O which belongs to the state and is also public land. We have the constitutional right to be on public land both to protest and to sleep until the City provides satisfactory alternative locations for shelter.

NOTE:  SLEEPS was trespasssed (given orders to leave or be cited/arrrested) by EPD at 5:30PM on the direct order of Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz.  This is the second time the City Manager has directly ordered the shutdown of a Free Speech Protest by SLEEPS on city owned or managed land.  The first shutdown was at City Hall on December 12th at 10:30 PM.  In both instances, protestors left peacefully.  The primary purpose of each attempt was to expose the unconstitutional acts of the City on 1st, 4th and 8th Amendment issues and bring the discussion into the realm of the courts.