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Guest opinion: I’m disturbed by anti-houseless bigotry on BikePortland

Posted by on November 14th, 2018 at 9:39 am

“Commenters on BikePortland used this incident as an excuse to take potshots at our unhoused neighbors.”
— Andrew Riley

This was written by Andrew Riley, an east Portland resident and longtime community organizer. He wrote this to me via email and gave me permission to post it as an opinion. — Jonathan

I’ve been reading the site since 2007. I’m writing as an East Portland resident, as a cyclist, and as someone who lives near several tent camps along I-205.

When the story on the I-205 “booby trap” was published, I was disturbed – but not surprised, to be honest – to see BikePortland commenters immediately blame houseless campers for this assault.

Literally the first comment on the post linked the two:

One commenter called for mass arrests of the unhoused so that they may be used as slave labor (per Oregon Measure 17) to clean up camps:

Another spread a rumor that the three assailants were unhoused, parroting what I presume is the Montavilla Initiative, a group of individuals in that neighborhood (where I used to reside) who blame every one of Montavilla’s problems on the unhoused:

Another commenter lightly echoes Trumpian rhetoric, arguing that we should “mak[e our] bike path useable again”:

Unfortunately, I could go on at length. Almost uniformly, commenters on BikePortland used this incident as an excuse to take potshots at our unhoused neighbors, which is common in just about any story mentioning 205, camps, or our houseless neighbors. The rhetoric borders on violent. And if you’d only read BikePortland, you’d come away with the clear conclusion that this was a case of unhoused individuals attacking a cyclist at random.

And then I read the Oregonian’s update about the assault this morning. What jumped out at me was the following:

The three assailants in this case were apparently attempting to harass unhoused campers. That suggests that Carlene Ostedgaard’s assault was a direct result of the same animus toward the unhoused that of your commenters share. It’s doubly disturbing, then, that BikePortland commenters chose to slander unhoused campers when they were the intended victims of this crime, and that there was precious little pushback to that narrative. You yourself have written many times about the ways in which violent rhetoric toward vulnerable road users can manifest in violent and unsafe behavior toward us, and I ask that you apply that same analysis to what your commenters are saying about the houseless.

I ask that you publish an update to that story, and perhaps use that update to reflect on why BikePortland is such a hotbed for aggressive rhetoric toward our unhoused neighbors; you could talk to folks like Street Roots, Right 2 Dream Too, or Dignity Village to get their impressions. If you’re unwilling or unable to do so, I ask that you print this email in full as an op-ed to BikePortland, as a counterpoint toward your commenters’ violent attitudes toward some of the most marginalized Portlanders.

Cheers and solidarity,

Andrew

——

UPDATE, 5:34 pm: I have blurred out the names of the commenters. Also, I want everyone to know that my intent in posting this was to show the community how the comments on the previous post were being heard by some people. I realize that some readers don’t appreciate that I’ve elevated Mr. Riley’s comments to the Front Page in this manner. < Please understand this is an extremely difficult topic to moderate (especially in 2018). I'm trying to move the conversation forward and I regret if this post set things back. I believe we need to be able to hear different perspectives and that more conversation is always better. Thank you. -- Jonathan

UPDATE: Don’t miss our latest story on the incident where I’ve reported an update from the DA’s office:

“When asked why they had put the string across the pathway… said they wanted to harass the transients in the area. Officer Miller spoke to suspects who said they wanted to “fuck with the homeless“ because “we don’t want them around here.”

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Tad Reeves
Guest

On the one hand, I understand and sympathize with the city’s problem with homelessness, and that we don’t have any adequate solution presently to the sheer volume of folks out there without a roof over their head for the various reasons they’re there.

At the same time, I think it is /entirely/ reasonable for folks in general, and Portland cyclists in particular to continue to insist that public parks and thoroughfares are NOT suitable places ever for homeless people to encamp themselves.

The DC Metro area also has a huge homeless problem, has had skyrocketing EXORBITANT housing prices (one of the reasons we left) but at the same time you can ride down the W&OD bike path for 30 miles and there’s not a single tent, and nobody on the trail except those using it to run & ride. Having just gone there for business and bike-commuting all week on the W&OD, it was painful to see that this is what the Springwater SHOULD be and COULD be.

rainbike
Guest
rainbike

Maybe if they were better “neighbors”…

Wylie Dulmage
Guest
Wylie Dulmage

Not cool to erase the context of what I was talking about, someone set up a trip wire across the 205 bikepath, and I said the bikepath should be made useable. I wasn’t even thinking about homeless people when I wrote that but if you want to be intellectually dishonest in order to claim a moral highground, then by all means

Nathan
Guest
Nathan

As a lifelong skateboarder and cyclist one thing I’d have to say is that public facilities that are not seen as adding to commerce, are largely placed on the periphery and in places that do not have foreseeable value. These are often also the last refuge for houseless people. Basically affordable housing leveraged in it’s most common form was basically ILLEGAL until the March of 2016 when Oregon Senate Bill 1533 passed allowing for inclusionary zoning. By mid-2016 the majority of large-scale venture and private equity backed housing had been submitted for permitting. Oregon Senate Bill 1533 was allowed to pass because developers (the primary constituent in most municipalities) had already cashed in on below-market assets and took advantage of desperate local governments hungry for new tax revenue.

What this mean for us the cycling community:

1. Until society as whole correlates cycling infrastructure with improved efficiency for commerce, we will continue to have pushback to cycling infrastructure in areas that are not deemed peripheral. (See SE 28th Ave bike-way opposition, or that fact that bike lanes continuing from any of the bridges into downtown, stop within 3 blocks of the river)
2. As cyclists we will continue to inhabit the same spaces as housesless people for a long time and we must explain to others how prevalent houselessness is to others. Most of society does not see the scale of the issue if they only come across a few homeless people downtown on their lunch break or a weekend trip where they get back in their car and drive back to their suburban neighborhood.
3. If we want our facilities to become improved, we must become not only reporters of the houseless situation to others, but advocates for changes to minimum wage laws, changes to laws regarding job discrimination based on criminal records, and the provision of public healthcare (#1 cause for bankruptcy is health-related bills).

We are part of the periphery. The most effective way to change that is to pull others out of the periphery and unite the voices of “the outsiders,” not create a further division. Show kindness, show empathy and realize we are in this together.

JJJ
Guest
JJJ

I’m sorry but I can’t take what Mr. Riley is saying seriously because he is taking perfectly rational comments and twisting them into something else.

“make bike path useable again” is not “Trumpian”. Its a statement that the path is less useful when half of it is being used for non-transport purposes. Trump does not have a monopoly on sentences ending with “again.”

And this one:

“One commenter called for mass arrests of the unhoused so that they may be used as slave labor ”

Mr. Riley needs to slow down and re-read the comment he is quoting because he certainly didn’t read it properly the first time.

axoplasm
Subscriber

This entire debate fuels a narrative that debases the public good.

Anyone should be able to recreate in a public park, at any time. Anyone should be able to move safely and freely through a public space, and enjoy the experience. At any time.

No one should have to live in public recreation space, or do their intimate daily activities (cooking, bathing, defecating) there. I try always to imagine if *I* had to do so. If it feels unsafe to ride my bike through somewhere for ten minutes, imagine having to *live* there.

That we consider public spaces to be the last available spaces for *some* people, is a failure of our collective imagination about what “public” means. It conflates “public” with a host of negative connotations: dangerous, dirty, abused, last resort. Those of us with the means to do so will gradually move away from “public” spaces into private ones. Private schools, private streets, private athletic clubs, private automobiles, private campgrounds, private housing. Then let the miserable poors have the shabby public stuff, amirite?

I challenge us to imagine a Portland with ample public goods. Where *even those with the means to do otherwise* choose public schools, public streets, public hangouts, public transit, public parks. Including public housing.

RH
Guest
RH

I think City Council should take an unannounced group ride down the 205 bike path to see what all the concern is about. It will be an eye opener outside of their little bubble.

soren
Guest
soren

Thanks for your post/email, Andrew.

Houseless folk are our neighbors and access to decent housing is a basic human right.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

I think what Andrew is confusing with bigotry is extreme human frustration. The reason this frustration is apparent on bike Portland is that these camps overlap the cities bikeways. Motorists just drive along and see them, but you don’t find a camp taking over half of I405. Even if the campers are 100% victims of housing policy, tax policy, financialization of housing assets, etc. it is only human nature to become frustrated with the side effects of people camping along most of the public byways in the city. Yes this is probably unfair but with no resolution in site, and little the average person feels they can do to improve things it is inevitable that frustration and animosity will build in even the most progressive elements of the community. It Barney the Purple Dinosaur live next to Mr. Rogers and every day he came over and defecated in Mr Rogers yard ,eventually Fred would lose his temper and at least yell at his brightly colored neighbor.

Jim
Guest
Jim

Many comments so far in response to this article only re-iterate what the article is speaking against.

I understand that people are afraid to use these paths. That is a reasonable response to a terrible situation. I don’t belittle or make light of anyone’s fear. There are some people living there who are intimidating. But it is a ridiculous oversimplification to just think there are “bad people” who need to be moved.

I am amazed and horrified at some peoples’ sweeping vilification of people living outside, and constant calls for police to arrest and/or sweep people. Sweeps and arrests do not help either the housed or the unhoused. They are just kicking the can down the line. Unhoused people are human beings. Under our current system, they are going to physically exist somewhere, whether that’s the 205 path, someone else’s neighborhood that you don’t have to see, or prison and then the street again. None of those things are a solution. And policing and criminalization are hugely expensive, whilst almost ensuring that the people criminalized will not be integrated back into society.

Any serious attempt to address homelessness has to address the causes. It will take time and be frustrating and cost money (though less than criminalization/social breakdown) and political capital. It will have to address addiction, mental health, economic disparity, domestic violence and more. I know people will throw up their hands and say that we have already tried this, or it is too expensive. But we really haven’t been trying. Business interests are dead against it. Local politicians voice concern when they think they need to, and throw a few programs and dollars around, but there is no real effort to upend a system that benefits their wealthy political constituency at the expense of all these others.

In the meantime, I may be sad that I’m not comfortable cycling on the 205 path, and there may be situations in which I’d call the police. But in general I’m don’t want to call in the police to kick those who are already down. As noted, parks and bike paths are low priority for business & government. As long as this is the case, and as long as there are destitute people, we will be alongside one another in these spaces.

I do work towards solutions that can actually create change. I do this unconditionally, not expecting that those experiencing addiction and mental health crises will be nice to me when I bump into them out on the trail. I do not do this to get a cookie here on the internet. I do this because this is being a good neighbor, and I want to live in a place with good neighbors.

Matheas Michaels
Guest
Matheas Michaels

You know, I have a lot of compassion for the homeless. I spent a couple of years living on the streets when I was a teenager, and I’ve always been very generous with people I see that need help. I understand the circumstances leading to homelessness and drug addiction are complicated, I also understand that homelessness is a symptom of the failings of our system, and not nearly as much a symptom of these people’s failings as individuals. I even at certain points have let a homeless person live in my garage during the winter, I really am aware of the humanity of people living on the streets. I know how hard it is, and I especially know how people look at you as though you’re subhuman. It’s terrible.

That said, I really think it’s important to recognize, while this may be portland’s most marginalized population, this is also the same population that has among other things, been stealing from and stabbing hardworking, dare I say, tax paying folk of this city for years. Also keep in mind, that many times these people are in fact stealing from people that have little more than the homeless do themselves. Sometimes people’s cars get broken into when they are living month-to-month and they can barely afford car payments. Or their bike, being their only source of transportation might get stolen. In many ways, while I acknowledge this population is a victim of the system, we are victims of (some of) them. The fear people live in due to service resistant homeless drug addicts is palpable. I had a neighbor who was told, “It’s my right to steal anything in your backyard I want, and if I have to kill your dog to do it, that’s fine with me”. People are beaten up, attacked for no reason, their houses broken into, sheds ripped off, bikes stolen, all the time by this population. The only times I’ve been afraid of violence in the past several years, all homeless people. The only time I’ve seen someone trying my doorknob, or looking into my windows to see if there’s anything worth breaking in and stealing, all homeless people. The only people threatening me when I walk down the street, homeless people.

I think there’s this narrative of radical inclusivity on the left, and it’s certainly well-intentioned but I’m not sure it’s actually all that productive. We all have to stick up for each and every person no matter their circumstances, and to single out and alienate absolutely anyone is wrong. I get that, I think it’s a value system that goes a long way in the right conditions, I really do. But I think it really misses a huge point, that certain homeless people make a conscious choice to live on the streets, violently and aggressively preying on people that do not. I know this because I have seen it, I have heard it from their mouths, and yes, I believe that they are victims of the system, but I also believe that it is their primary objective to victimize other people. Victimize people that have jobs and can afford to buy the things that these service resistant homeless drug addicts want to steal.

I go out of my way to show kindness to homeless people. But I am afraid of some of them, because some of them are not nice people. I think that the dogmatic defense of this population, with sometimes zero acknowledgment that they are a super problematic population, is tone deaf and ignorant. Yes we need better civic and social management of the homeless population. Yes anti-homeless rhetoric is bad. Yes people like to blame homeless people for ridiculous things and don’t understand often their lives just crashed due to little fault of their own. But it’s really annoying when people act like there’s no reason to be upset.

There are some parallels between the way people see one arrogant and irresponsible cyclist and they assume all cyclists act this way, and the way people similarly perceive the homeless. I am cognizant of the danger here. But again, there are some serious predators here that really take advantage of people’s powerlessness.

I think it’s ironic and depressing that these 3 jerks assaulted this poor woman, intending to assault homeless people. I think it’s absolutely as a result of the anti-homeless sentiment in our city. I think it’s awful, and I think it’s wrong. I go out of my way to correct over-zealous hatred of the homeless as I’m sure many people do, but don’t underestimate the terror that people have experienced at the hands of this population. I think these 3 men’s actions are as much a result of poor leadership regarding the social climate surrounding this issue as are the actions of some homeless people.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

I live in a neighborhood where 15-20% of the residents are unhoused. I have worked to secure funding for housing for some of them through a non-profit that was a child of a non-profit that I am on the board of. I’ve also worked with my city to get several public bathrooms open 24/7 and to place porta-potties with sharps containers inside them and trash cans in strategic places. I’ve even housed homeless people in my own home. There have been brutal, fatal attacks on homeless people in my neighborhood as well.

I’ve also had homeless drug addicts break in to my neighbors’ homes. Several female neighbors who live alone are afraid to come out during certain hours because of past harassment from homeless men. My entire family and an employee have been attacked by homeless people while riding on bike paths and while walking. (So far we have all escaped unharmed.) There are some really messed-up people out there and some of them are homeless.

I can see where someone who has had my negative experiences but hasn’t found a way to engage the overwhelming majority of homeless people who are not inclined towards violence might see our region’s visible homeless problem, the camps in public spaces, as extremely problematic from a safety standpoint. These camps are intimidating for a number of reasons (people living outside societal norms, people who apparently have nothing to lose, people whose life scares us because we’re not so certain such a fate will never befall us…)

Solutions? Oh my, if I had a simple solution I’d run for office. Meanwhile, the folks who just want to ride their bikes without having to solve all of society’s ills have to choose: help fix some of these problems or have some of your cycling restricted. We make the same choice regarding our out of control car culture. We pick where to make specific improvements so we can get where we want to go when we want to go there in relative ease and safety.

It’s going to take similar types of engagement to deal with the camps. Just like we allow certain roads to be arterials and freeways, we’re probably going to have to set aside spaces for functioning camps and help bring them about. The recent ninth circuit decision kind of makes the elimination of camps impossible until we have alternatives, so we can howl at the moon or get on with making those happen.

J_R
Guest
J_R

My wife and daughters cannot safely ride the path. Heck, I don’t even feel safe riding the path during daylight unless I’m with a group.

I’ve been verbally accosted and intimidated into turn around when the paths have been blocked by people whose body language indicated they had no intention of allowing me to pass. Then there’s the trash and collection of items of value that appear out of place given the circumstances of those nearby.

If I, and many others, don’t feel safe using these recreation/transportation corridors for their intended use, what’s the point of having them?

It’s also quite disheartening to find that PPB’s response time to this attempt to injure a cyclist was 15 minutes. If someone was throwing rocks from an overpass onto I-205 what would PPB’s response time be? Just another example of how cyclists’ needs are not being met.

Yes, I’m afraid. And I’m becoming really upset at losing access to paths and other things I enjoy and pay for because certain people are seizing them for their own purposes. I’m sick of it.

pkulak
Subscriber
pkulak

Never thought I’d see, on a site I financially support, people called “Trumpian” who just want to be able to use their public spaces safely. That support will end now, so I can at least know I’m not a part of it. Peace out, ladies and gentlemen.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

The responses to the guest opinion are proving the writer’s point. The defensiveness of the commenters here really is unseemly. Instead of focusing your energy on pushing back against the writer, why not use that energy instead to reflect on your own thoughts and behaviors? Yes, it sucks that there are usability issues on the multiuse path, but they are a symptom of wider societal problems that force these human beings to the margins, which sucks even more for them. Are some of the people living along the path criminals? Sure, just like some housed people are criminals. The people who assaulted the cyclist committed a crime and should be dealt with accordingly. Their housing status does not figure into that. Maybe instead of putting all of our focus on our own discomfort in traveling along the path, we should work towards solving societal issues that lead to homelessness. This includes economics, as well as addiction, which by the way, most of us are a bad accident away from becoming drug addicts and a job loss away from losing our housing. In the meantime, we should come up with a means to provide adequate shelter for ALL homeless people. I’m guessing that living along a path in tents and not having an actual bathroom to use is not anyone’s first choice here? It wasn’t their first choice either.

Melodie
Guest
Melodie

I started riding in 2011. I have never experienced the Waterfront Path free of homeless presence. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never experience the Waterfront Path free of homeless presence. I have resigned myself to being in a state of constant vigilance while on that Path. I cannot imagine what it is like riding on Eastside paths like the Esplanade, the Springwater, etc. where you are essentially trapped on both sides, and only have the option of backtracking out of shady situations. Recently a coworker who rides from Milwaukie on the Esplanade said she saw a glint of light off something shiny above her head as she rode along. Upon focusing on the object, she was shocked to realize it was an unsavory individual crouching behind bushes holding a crossbow.

Super glad I do not have to have Those concerns, as yet.

Charles Ross
Guest
Charles Ross

Sorry, the homeless in Portland are not “neighbors” in any sense of the word. They have just about ruined this jewell of a city (I care much more about this beautiful city than I do about the subnormal miscreants who, at best, occupy space and at worst, well, just look around.
They need to stop doing the things that hold them down, find jobs and work hard.
The vast majority of people hanging out on the street are more than capable of working and dilute resources that could be going to a core group of mentally ill. If it truly “takes a village” to solve problems aren’t the homeless also part of that village and isn’t their buy-in necessary to effect a solution?
I’m 67 and throw packages at brown to earn money. If I can do that, they can too!

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

I purposely haven’t read the other comments yet. What disturbs me is what I see happening to our society. In talking with people in Denmark, Germany, Japan, Korea, Sweden etc etc, they Don’t seem to have this problem, and they don’t have bloated corporate prison industries. They sure as hell don’t treat their citizens that have problems with contempt. Oh, but we sure tell everyone how to live their lives as we walk out of church Sunday morning to go back to our own Black Friday spending and war profiteering. This is a dying civilization.

Random
Guest
Random

“Ah, so before I can have safe public spaces, I need to completely solve the homeless problem?”

More than that, you need to overthrow world capitalism.

North Korea doesn’t have this problem, after all.

David Lewis
Guest
David Lewis

While we’re getting way off-topic, it is worth keeping in mind that according to Amnesty USA in this article: https://blog.amnestyusa.org/us/housing-its-a-wonderful-right/ our country currently has 3.5 million homeless and 18.5 million vacant homes. I’m not saying the problem is easy to solve, but it is soluble and it is one of distribution.

Craig Giffen
Guest
Craig Giffen

I lived next to a popular drug house in Foster Powell for seven years. I wouldn’t wish that experience on my worst enemy. I used to think I was a bleeding heart liberal, but ugh, that experience changed me. I can’t imagine what it is like for people who have homes along the 205 bike path.

My wife does not feel comfortable riding the 205 bike path with me in daylight hours anymore. One trip from Stark to Glisan was enough for both of us to say “NEVER. AGAIN.” We ride with all the traffic on 92nd now…it is safer.

Yes, at a national level we need universal health care, social services funded like we do the military, income equality, I agree with all of that. Until then I feel like we are in a situation like this:

person 1: “This house is on fire, we should put it out!”
person 2: “Indeed it is on fire, but rather than putting the fire out, we should figure out the root causes of fire in general, have a dialogue about them, come together with solutions, and then we can prevent fires in the future.”
person 1: “Yes I agree, but in the meantime the house has burned down.”

Jon
Guest
Jon

Who is Andrew Riley and why should I care about what he thinks? My focus is getting around as safe as possible on my bicycle. Criminal activity and camping is making bike paths un-usable for bicycle riders. I don’t care if the people taking away my transportation option are homeless/houseless or just plain criminals and drug addicts. As long as the city allows our bike paths to become lawless messes full of trash and drug use then we have a problem. Our only travel options that don’t involve sharing roads with 4000 pound cars are trashed and blocked.

Sara Cowling
Guest
Sara Cowling

Wow, I am well and truly horrified that this post linked my comment about supporting a sweep in campers blocking the path to make the path safer for all users with ‘supporting slave labor’. I knew that expressing the opinion that I feel afraid to ride this path would get screams of outrage from people for demonizing the homeless, but this is just absolutely unacceptable.

Jonathan, I’ve long known that this wasn’t a place where I could say out loud that I feel afraid when people block the bike path – but I’m really shocked to see that feeling confirmed so specifically. If you want to build a community here where women feel safe speaking up, well. You’ve got a long way to go.

Brad
Guest
Brad

Come on Maus, posting this is just irrisponsible. Its just irrational garbage that intentionally misreads, misconstrues, and puts words into peoples mouths… but because it’s “pro unhoused” we all have to pretend it’s a reasonable liberal position.

**moderated insult** I know it’s good for ad revenue but shouldn’t you screen this stuff a little bit?

Jon
Guest
Jon

Sweden, France, Netherlands, United States, Germany. Which of these has the highest percentage of their population classified as homeless? According to Wikipedia it is: Sweden – 0.36%, France – 0.21%, Netherlands – 0.19%, U.S. – 0.17%, Germany – 0.14%. Somehow all those very cycling friendly countries can keep their bicycle routes safe and clean with homeless rates generally higher than the US. I wonder how? My guess is they treat bicycle routes with the same priority as automobile and train routes and don’t allow people to impede them with tents and trash. I don’t know how to solve the homeless issue but I do know how to solve the bicycle transportation issue and that is keep the routes clear, safe, and clean. Keeping bike paths clear is not a homelessness issue it is a transportation issue.

Brent Shultz
Guest
Brent Shultz

My bicycle was stolen in Troutdale when I ventured back to Portland to take a UBI course at the start of October. It was a homeless person who stole it (I know this, because it was partially recovered from a camp off the Sandy River). While I was really, really, really angry about situation, it also left me reflecting on the state of our nation economically, specifically the desperation. Homelessness is nothing short of terrible. Sure, some homeless folks are bad, but most are just lost in this world and need help to get back. We can’t just write everyone off as a depraved druggie and call it a day.

Columbo
Guest
Columbo

I’m absolutely appalled that anyone would defend the mass destruction of public spaces, let alone defend the assault of a bike commuter. It’s time we Portland stood up to the activist bullies and demanded safe parks, safe trails and safe public transit. It’s the least we can expect.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

UPDATE, 5:34 pm: I have blurred out the names of the commenters. Also, I want everyone to know that my intent in posting this was to show the community how the comments on the previous post were being heard by some people. I realize that some readers don’t appreciate that I’ve elevated Mr. Riley’s comments to the Front Page in this manner.

Please understand this is an extremely difficult topic to moderate (especially in 2018). I’m trying to move the conversation forward and I regret if this post set things back. I believe we need to be able to hear different perspectives and that more conversation is always better. Thank you

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

UPDATE: Don’t miss our latest story on the incident where I’ve reported an update from the DA’s office:

“When asked why they had put the string across the pathway… said they wanted to harass the transients in the area. Officer Miller spoke to suspects who said they wanted to “fuck with the homeless“ because “we don’t want them around here.”

KTaylor
Guest
KTaylor

rachel b
And while I may sympathize, we really do have to understand (re: the scofflaws and those who present a danger to others) actions and consequences and stop with the conspicuous compassion wars and the idea that we can somehow LOVE everyone to wholeness and beyond asocial behaviors, instantly.Recommended 2

Well said, rachel.

Hall
Guest
Hall

Thanks for posting this. I’m disappointed but not surprised to see so many commenters getting defensive.

It’s not fair that cyclists’ needs are pit against the needs of homeless people. Cyclists are justified in feeling angry that we’re in this situation, and that we are expected to put up with discomfort and danger that drivers are not. Everyone (including women, like myself) should feel safe using our MUPs, and clearly that’s not currently the case.

This doesn’t mean that it’s okay to make generalizations about homeless people being dangerous. It doesn’t mean that we get to assert that our needs for comfort and safety are more important than homeless people’s needs for comfort and safety. And it’s imperative that cyclists who do have the privilege of some stability (in housing, income, mental health) take extra care to appreciate the more extreme hardships faced by the vast majority of homeless people, and to have our opinions and policy stances reflect that.

Hazel Light
Guest
Hazel Light

Thank you for posting this. The anti homeless vitriol on bikeportland has left me frustrated many times. Homeless people should be treated with respect. And remember, for the cost of sending cops to police the houseless, we could just give people homes.

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

The homeless issue in Portland has become too great for government to solve the problem alone. Members of neighborhoods need to engage the homeless not ignore them. People need to be out there talking with the needy. Bring peanut butter sandwiches, trashbags, bottles of water. Help pick up trash and sharps. Get to know peoples’ names, why they’re there. Learn what tents are the ones to stay away from and then engage them in numbers so not to be scared. 30-40 people showing up every Friday along parts of the 205 — people will either accept the charity or leave. Engagement is the solution.

BradWagon
Subscriber

This belongs exactly where it is: an editorial opinion piece. Hard to follow Andrew’s disingenuous twisting of statements at times. “Trumpian”?? lol

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

This conversation jumped the shark. I would encourage everyone spending time commenting on this site to step back from the computers and step out into the community to exercise analog advocacy.

DirtyBike
Guest
DirtyBike

The writer of this opinion piece and the author of the Portland Mercury article are trying to conflate a desire for safe and livable neighborhoods with being a anti-homeless which is not the same thing.

If Andrew did some research he would see that at least one of the people who set the trap is in fact homeless: https://bikeportland.org/2018/11/14/i-205-path-booby-trap-suspects-in-court-today-to-face-felony-assault-charges-292117

I live near this area and has been threatened and harassed by campers when riding my bike on the path and have constantly had to dodge needles, trash, tents and objects thrown to make me crash.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Here is the deal. The “unhoused” are doing little to police their own. I am sure someone saw these dirtbags attempt murder on a completely innocent person. Guess what they did? Nothing. The homeless have this odd code where everyone does nothing. So yeah, that’s why they get swept. Is is sad? Yes. But it’s the ONLY WAY to deal with this mass lawlessness. I have zero sympathy.

Now, it’s an issue that Portland is quite flat and NIMBYs refuse to allow tall housing to be be built. The next time you fly over, look down, all new housing is largely flat, or high end. People can’t afford to find anything so..this is the situation.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

So a community with a code protecting miscreants is not worthy of dignity?

Jason VH
Guest

This is an issue that is happening everywhere, not just Portland. It should be a conversation that also takes place regionally, statewide as well as nationally.

Oakland, CA is experimenting with providing Tuff Shed units, portable toilets, wash stations and weekly shower service. They’re creating a safe place. This seems like a positive step in helping people down on their luck.
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Oakland-to-clear-Lake-Merritt-homeless-camps-13276401.php#photo-16168843

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

9watts
Right! So when drivers fail to police their kind who daily injure and kill innocents… When white people fail to police their fellow white people who commit daily acts of aggressions small and large…Recommended 2

White people are the biggest group of self policers by far.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Hello, Kitty
So a community with a code protecting miscreants is not worthy of dignity?Recommended 1

Dignity and destroying public land is not the same thing. And, actually no, Dignity is not a civil right.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Hello, Kitty
You were saying that because the community along the bike trails did not turn in the offenders, the area should be “swept”. Is this an accurate summary of what you believe?Recommended 0

The best part of the written word is that, it’s all there.

X
Guest
X

It seems to me that some of the drug use, criminality, and occasional violence associated with people sleeping rough is associated with the hopelessness of their individual situation and what they see as the uncaring attitude of everyone they meet. For instance, I rarely if ever give money to people who ask for it because I work in public and just don’t have that much money. How do they see me?

Nevertheless I grew up listening to a preacher, not by choice, and I still remember the parts about the beggars, and what it means to be a neighbor, and the way to “enter the Kingdom” (KJV) was to sell your stuff and feed the poor. I make no pretense of being a Christian–Christian and love being about the most-trammeled words in the English language–but I still feel bad about this.

What to do? One solution adopted by friends of mine was to pick one person they saw on the street, acknowledge them, talk to them, give them their change, in general be a neighbor to them. There weren’t burner phones then but that’s another possibility, give somebody a phone and take their calls.

The safety net is impersonal, rule-bound and bureaucratic. It’s no wonder that many people sleep rough when they could be indoors in a bed. I wouldn’t want to listen to somebody preach for food, or ditch my dog for a shelter bed, or leave my lover because couples weren’t allowed. Some people don’t want to be supported but could we give them a ladder to climb up? A person who is acknowledged as a human being has a harder time hating.

If I had to fly a sign I would probably hate you all.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Hello, Kitty
Do you hold other communities to the same standard?Recommended 1

You really feel superior with your socratic method of we questioning. Pretty easy to do when you weren’t strangled on a public path. Did you read the other comments? People don’t feel safe and you don’t care.

Bottom line, the ppb and the council need to take a zero tolerance stance against living on or near the paths. $1000 fine and a felony. It’s got to stop.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

9watts
“Bottom line, the ppb and the council need to take a zero tolerance stance against living on or near the paths. $1000 fine and a felony. It’s got to stop.”=Duterte You are being ridiculous. This country is so stuck in a punishment mindset we can’t even see how counterproductive it is. We already have a higher percentage of our population locked up than any other country, and now you are asserting that we need to criminalize being homeless.Recommended 0

The stealing of peace and public land is a criminal act. Invite them to your house if you feel slow Inclined. However, I applaud your faux outrage and concern. Again, let them camp out on it in the lanes or on the Hawthorne and tell at people as they drive by. See how long the cops tolerate it

Put up a few signs stating the penalties and watch them scatter .

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

Can we all just agreee that the situation is sad. What happened to the bicyclist was sad. Assuming anyone doing violent acts along the path is automatically homeless, is sad. The trash, misery, drug use, and unemployment is all sad. Not feeling safe on the path is sad. Government’s failure is sad. What’s generally suppose to be a happy-positive thing for a city (more bike paths) is the opposite in our case and that makes me very sad…

9watts
Subscriber

Lots of things we tolerate every day are or could easily be construed as criminal acts.

I think you are the one bringing your outrage in here.

All I’m saying is that we would do well as a society to keep this in perspective. What you are proposing may seem like a simple solution to you, but some of the main reasons we are where we are is that people in the past have pursued similarly I’ll-advised punitive ‘solutions’ which then predictably begat other, sometimes worse, problems.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Hello, Kitty
I never really took you for a law-and-order type. Again, would you support this zero-tolerance approach to public safety in other communities?Recommended 0

What other mythical unicorn community are you referring to? Another mythical lawless community?

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Disagree away to your hearts content Kitty. Once it’s unsafe for kids or women to ride along public paths, my liberal sentiment is gone. Long gone. At that point, it’s time to kick tents down and take names. People can move on somewhere else far away from the public paths. Oregon is a big and open place. This isn’t the first incident, and won’t be the last if we allow this lawlessness to go on.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

9watts
Has it occurred to you—who claim to be concerned about the safety of women and children—that the present situation is considerably less safe for homeless women and homeless children, long before you come along and ‘kick their tents down’?Or are you only concerned with the safety of women and children who don’t live in tents?Recommended 0

You should really find a woman with kids in those tents, by the paths. Then, when you do, ask them why they were denied housing at least temporary.

Let me know when you do. Besides, you cant let one provably dangerous situation exist for the lawful because a hypothetical situation exists from the lawless.

And being for this lawless situation, or an advocate for it, does not bode well for cycling. At some point, you gotta draw a line.