Thursday, February 08, 2007

Tent city residents spar with city

This tent city was put up near the state Capitol in Olympia, Washington, to protest a new city ordinance that makes it illegal to sit, lie down, sell things or ask for money within 6 feet of a building downtown.

City officials in Olympia, Washington, have asked residents of Camp Quixote to disperse, telling them they are breaking city trespassing ordinances.

"The community's patience is wearing thin," City Manager Steve Hall said Wednesday. If the campers don't leave the city-owned lot, they might face citation, arrest and loss of their possessions, he said.

Camp Quixote started as a protest of the sidewalk ordinance, which took effect Feb. 1. But it has turned into more of a show of solidarity among the city's homeless, said Rob Richards of the Poor People's Union.

Richards said the group wants Olympia to have something similar to Portland's "Dignity Village," which was designated a transitional housing campground under Oregon law* in 2004.

Read the Associated Press story here. And for more info -- and discussion from folks in Olympia -- check out Sarah's Blog at OlyBlog.
* You can read the Oregon statute authorizing transitional housing campgrounds here. Scroll down to Section 446.265.


At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Poor People's Union said...

Contact: Ray Kavick (925)-285-5342


On February 1st, the day that the City of Olympia banned sitting, panhandling or performing (except in designated areas) on the sidewalk, the Poor People’s Union (PPU) set up a tent encampment on the corner of Capitol and Columbia, behind the Brotherhood bar. Since that time, the encampment has grown to include 25 tents, each holding more than one person, a kitchen, a portable toilet and a wooden, communal hall. Dozens of local businesses and residents have donated food, clothing and other necessities. Countless others have visited and toured our home offering us support. Throughout the time we have been here, we have stuck by our four rules: No Alcohol, No Drugs, No Violence, No Theft. We have consistently organized trash brigades to pick up litter in the neighborhood around the camp, we have handled disagreements collectively, drugs and alcohol have been effectively banned, and no serious incidents have occurred.

All of us in the camp view it as our home and respect it as a home. People who would have been sleeping outside alone, isolated from any sort of community have now found one. We have formed a community and those living here have one thing in common: the City has no concern for us as human beings with a right to housing. We are asking for three simple things: 1) a permanent site for all those now living in Camp Quixote, 2) a services review board, 3) representation on all committees involving issues of homelessness, poverty, and social services. Now that we have begun to organize ourselves to demand these rights, the local government and police are preparing to come and destroy the small, beautiful place that we have built for ourselves. Our crime is NOT trespassing, our crime is NOT being unsanitary and our crime is certainly NOT being dangerous. Our crime is acting independently and effectively, being organized, and caring for all the people of this community especially each other -- those without permanent shelter.

Today, February 6th, the City Manager Steve Hall and Police Chief Gary Michel came down to the camp and, after kicking one of our tent poles over, gave us a verbal order to disperse. At the City Council meeting tonight, City officials made it clear that they were not going to change their minds: the camp had to go. Together we wait for the police to come knocking. When they do, they will not just be taking down some tents and throwing them away, they will be destroying what in five, long days has become our home. We hope that the police treat us with dignity and refrain from violence. We are asking for continued support from the Olympia community. We need the spirit of Camp Quixote to be remembered and rebuilt. We need to show the City that they cannot kick people and expect them to patiently await the next kick. They can pull the same old tricks and have the police toss us back on the same old streets, but they cannot destroy the community we have built. And that community is not going to stop fighting for our rights.

At 3:32 AM, Blogger Anonymous Law Student said...

Interesting situation. Perhaps the city should remove their stupid ordinance.

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