Breaking News: Homeless stake out their own “occupation”

Ibrahim Mubarak in front of the new homeless "occupation" at Fourth and Burnside.

With all the focus on the Occupy Portland event downtown, a second encampment has emerged, this one by people experiencing homelessness taking over a corner at NW Fourth Avenue and Burnside. The squat, on a vacant plot of land, is being organized through Right 2 Survive, a grassroots movement of people in homelessness and is being called “Right to Dream Too,” or R2D2. The encampment’s spokesperson is Ibrahim Mubarak (pictured above), a longtime advocate on homeless issues and one of the spearheads behind Dignity Village.  There’s more to come, but here is an excerpt of the initial statement from the group:

Today, Saturday, the 8th of October, a new organization is taking physical form.  The Right to Dream Too (R2D2) movement is a houseless camp being set up in the heart of downtown Portland next to the China Town’s entrance.

 The first task is constructing barrier walls around property that has been donated by two Portland landowners to this group.  According to the group’s spokesperson, Ibrahim Mubarak, “Right now we’re on Fourth and NW Burnside, downtown Portland.  We have acquired some land from some gracious landowners and we are building a fence so that people who normally would not get a good night’s rest, or midday’s rest, can come here and rest.  And when I say people, I mean houseless people.  The fence will keep people safe while they sleep.”

Going on to explain the meaning behind the name of this new group, Ibrahim states, “This is called ‘Right to Dream Too’ because you know about the American Dream, when they tell you that you have to go to college, get married, have 2.5 children, buy a house with a wife, picket fence, and a dog.  That’s somebody else’s dream.  They’re not allowing other people to dream, meaning that if you’re not sleeping, you’re not dreaming.  So we’re allowing people to rest so that they can dream, so we’re calling this R2D2, Right to Dream Too, so that everybody will have a right to dream.”

The site will be officially opened on Monday, October 10th, which is National Homeless Day.  The organizers are extending an open invitation to the community to come down and celebrate National Homeless Day at their new camp.  “We want everybody to be in solidarity with us and to see this amazing event.  This is history.  This is the first time ever.  This is different than Dignity Village because we’re right in downtown Portland on prime property to let everybody know that there is a houseless epidemic.”

“How many people are we going to let in?  We don’t know, but we know that there are too many people to fit in here.  Hopefully, other people with private land that have nothing to do with this will follow this concept and be generous and let people sleep on their land to get people out of the streets — to let the city know, look at all these people, why are you not doing anything with vacant buildings or old houses or vacant lots that are not being utilized so that they can let people come and rest?  And then once you’ve rested, you can figure out what you want to do.  Because when you’re sleep-deprived, you cannot figure anything out. ….”

Today and tomorrow, walls and infrastructure are being built. “Hopefully, we won’t be building on Monday, but we’re going to keep on going until it’s built.  On Monday, we want to have this open.  So, if there is anyone who has any handyman skills, any person who has experience, come down and help us.”

6 responses to “Breaking News: Homeless stake out their own “occupation”

  1. Congratulations. I anticipate that R2D2 will be shut down almost immediately, and the “gracious landowners” will be protested by the people of the Old Town-Chinatown association and businesses almost immediately for this new “makeshift homeless shelter” in their backyard.

    The only reason why the main Alpha Camp of #OccupyPortland is thriving and is on a mostly friendly term with the city officials and the mass media is that it is perceived as the camp of the mostly middle-class white people. Even though the media reported that there was a sexual assault in one of the tents last night, no one is talking about shutting this down.

    I talked about this classist double-standard this morning. Lindsay Walker came up with a sarcastic moniker, “Privileged Camp Dignity” and made a huge sign on one of the fences.

    Having said this, however, I urge a bit of caution on R2D2. Personally I reserve my support for R2D2, as no successful social movement is built unless class boundaries are breached. Creating an almost separatist camp for the homeless runs counter to this wisdom. Animosity towards the homeless population at the Alpha Camp is already an issue. There is no need for feeding the classist prejudice by building a self-imposed ghetto where it is just far enough that very few #Occupiers even would know its existence.

  2. THIS IS NOT IN NO WAY AN OCCUPY THING… WE’VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS PROJECT FOR MONTHS…

  3. “With all the focus on the Occupy Portland event downtown, a second encampment has emerged…” is a misleading way of reporting it, then.

  4. Dear Sarah: If you are saying that people, who on a nightly basis must must scrounge to meet there basic need of safety risking arrest from authorities and abuse from misdirected revelers, coming together in a shared space to sleep and share life has potential to be given a negative spin by the hate mongering media or that it has very real downsides as a band aid at best and spectacle at worst I agree. However I think that a self imposed ghetto speaks entirely ill of something that is creative solution coming out of desperation.
    In no way do I mean this to be inflammatory or hurtful. I merely wish that as people who want to see the best for our fellow humans we would come along side attempts to change and help plug holes and encourage instead of critic and neigh say.
    Please forgive the horrible grammar and structure as it is not a strong suite for me.

  5. Pingback: Homeless activists say safety, stability the priority | For those who can’t afford free speech

  6. What about the Bud Clark Commons? Wasn’t that supposed to be a new resource for the homeless? Funny to be treating R2D2 as the only alternative for the homeless when a multi-million-dollar Homeless Access Resource Center (the Commons) just opened a few months ago.

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