River cleanup ousts homeless
The ongoing South Umpqua River Cleanup recently ran into some difficulty. The area they planned to clean up was inhabited by homeless people who had sought out that space to escape the scrutiny and judgment they are routinely subjected to when in more visible parts of town.
But the cleanup crew was not deterred. They moved people out no less swiftly and efficiently than they moved downed branches and trash. When they were unable to persuade the people living there to voluntarily abandon their makeshift homes, the cleanup crew simply called law enforcement to conduct the eviction for them. It is sometimes helpful to have the phone number of men with guns as a way to get what one wants.
The organizers of the South Umpqua River Cleanup may have begun their ambitious project with the best of intentions. Displacing people may have been an unintended consequence, but the reality is that people who were already suffering have now been further hurt. This may have been an unintended outcome, but it was far from being an unpredictable one, as the concern was raised numerous times to cleanup organizers.
Homeless people are members of our community, but instead they are being treated as weeds to be pulled up and rooted out so that others may have a more pleasant view, unspoiled by the presence of our homeless neighbors.