Civilian Foot Patrols Are Forming, and Whistles Are Being Distributed
It has been reported to us — and it is being widely talked about among the homeless — that at least three women in the last week have been raped while attempting to sleep alone – all within the St. Francis neighborhood in inner Southeast. Two have been assaulted on the east side not far from St. Francis, most recently on Sunday night (Nov. 30). Another woman was assaulted around Thanksgiving Day under the Burnside Bridge on the west side.
Right 2 Survive is distributing whistles to women and other vulnerable people in the area.
If anyone would like a whistle, you can get one from Julie, who is regularly at St. Francis Dining Hall (SE 11th & Oak) at dinner time (4 to 6 pm), or call Laura at 503-875-0425, and we will get you a whistle ASAP.
We are also encouraging all allies to patrol these areas at night with eyes and ears open to any assaults – and especially listen for whistles (many already distributed). Organized patrols will soon begin meeting nightly at the Red & Black, with the plan being to walk the east side — Hawthorne to Burnside, 12th Ave to the River — to help protect against sexual assaults.
The Danger of Victimized Twice (by police or the rapist) If You Tell
Many women who are victims of assault are reluctant to go to police, because Portland’s police have a reputation for not seriously dealing with assault complaints from the homeless. In fact they often treat homeless women as though they did something to ‘deserve it.’ This is often referred to as being “victimized twice.”
Sometimes when a woman tells the police or a reporting agency about a rape, little comes of the complaint. People who are houseless are often not taken as seriously as those with houses and perhaps attorneys. What happens when police do nothing or when a court fails to keep a rapist locked up? Retaliation is a very real danger. The best plan is prevention. The best plan for un-sheltered women under assault is to camp together, or otherwise occupy otherwise vacant safe spaces. With or without a government permission, this is instinctive, and prudent in light of City Council’s inaction. This is our right to survive.
The current anti-camping law keeps people from banding together easily for mutual protection.
The City has been unwilling so far to offer any public areas for organized camping — or to legally allow property owners or churches to permit campers on site. In Seattle and in cities across the U.S., this is how houseless people usually manage (as best they can) to stay safe – by camping in tent groups in larger numbers together, and watching over each other. Where numbers of homeless campers have attempted to congregate here in Portland, police have been aggressive in breaking up the ‘camp.’
E-mail us at R2SPdx@gmail.com with your ideas about where and how people can camp and squat safely! We each have a right to safety! If government will not care for us, we can and will band together and care for ourselves.