Truth Commission offers tears and insight

August 7, 2008

Old Town was alive tonight. Nearly 60 individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty gathered with allies and advocates at Sisters Of The Roads’ sponsored Truth Commission on the sit-lie ordinance.

Around 20 people gave rather emotional testimonies about their experiences with the obstruction as nuisance ordinance and other realities of living on the streets.

Many of the testimonies touched upon the idea of that the law unfairly targets individuals who are tired and beat down – constantly living in fear for their safety from both law enforcement and criminal elements existing on the streets.

Housed community members delivered a series testimonies about why the sit-lie does not protect Portlanders and wastes taxpayer money.

One housed speaker told the audience that she never asked City Hall or the Portland Business Alliance for her safety to be protected from people experiencing homelessness. “We all live in the same city.”

Newly elected City Commissioner Nick Fish, City Hall staffers, and council candidates Amanda Fritz and Charles Lewis looked on, while reporters circled the event trying to get the scoop.

Charles Lewis spoke early in the event about his experience sleeping out on the streets for a night prior to deciding to run for office.

Tom Hastings with Portland State University, Jeff Bissonette a consumer advocate with Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon, Father Ron with the Downtown Chapel Roman Catholic Parish, and Paul Boden with the Western Regional Advocacy Project based in San Francisco offered their insights and reflections about the testimonies and civil rights on Portland’s streets. Community organizer Patrick Nolen with Sisters mc’ed the event.

Crowds gathered in front of Sisters conversing after the event while festivities for Portland’s First Thursday filled the sidewalks.

Street Roots will be publishing exerts from interviews done with people on the streets about the obstruction ordinance in the August 8, edition.

On August 11th the Safe Access For Everyone oversight committee will hold a public hearing on the ordinance at the First Unitarian Church from 3-5PM.

Posted by Israel Bayer

One response to “Truth Commission offers tears and insight

  1. great article Iz,
    I thought the event turned out great. The Truth Commissioners were serious and to the point, and did a great job at fulfilling their duties. The audience was wonderfull, about 30 people comming up to testify! Most, like you mention, had expierence of homelessness. I was rather amazed at how many different stories there were that shared simmilar facts. “its unfair not to use it on everyone” “it doesnt help solve homelessness” “it hurts me by not allowing me to rest” and simmilar thoughts

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