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.”