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May 2, 2013
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Letter: Prohibited camping ordinance raises concerns for the homeless in Roseburg

Camping ban vs homelessness

At a recent Roseburg City Council meeting many people, including myself, offered sharp criticism about how poorly our community treats those without housing. This criticism was directed primarily at the Roseburg Police Department and the Downtown Roseburg Association.

Within 12 hours of that meeting, seven people were cited for prohibited camping in three separate incidents. Due to a “prohibited camping” ordinance, sleeping while being homeless is essentially illegal within the Roseburg city limits and is routinely punished with exorbitant fines and other charges. Overnights raids were conducted at 3:30 a.m. on Jackson St., at 6 a.m. on Rose St., and at 6:30 a.m. at Gaddis Park.

Given that law enforcement knows where homeless individuals tend to seek refuge, it is difficult to interpret these overnight raids as anything less than retaliation. It is simply not credible to call this a coincidence. What’s worse is that it’s retaliation against the most vulnerable members of our community who were not even present at the City Council meeting.

Furthermore, if the exclusion zone ordinance being drafted by the Downtown Roseburg Association were currently in effect, the individuals who were subjected to these raids would likely be even further bullied by being legally banned from entering downtown. If anything, these raids confirmed the criticisms offered at the City Council meeting: that there is a hostile atmosphere toward the homeless in Roseburg. Fortunately, there are also many people with kind hearts who will continue to defend the integrity of our homeless neighbors.

Ian Smith

Roseburg


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The News-Review Updated Jun 10, 2013 11:35AM Published May 2, 2013 12:12PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.