Posted: July 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

I Ibrahim, am very disturbed at the city officials and the police department. As everyone knows that I conduct a Right 2 Survive bi-weekly “Under the Bridge Walks”. Where we go into the houseless community that lives under the bridges and in the bushes to talk with them, hear what they have to say, & teach them their Human, Constitutional,and Civil Rights. We also pass out Right 2 Survives bi-weekly news letters, and hand out any information that may be helpful to the houseless community. In one of the newsletters articles was a topic called; Sweep/Swept. Which tells how the police sweep camp sites where people sleep that have no where to go. You should get a copy of the news letter and read.

Yesterday, early morning it was brought to my attention that there was a major sweep under all the bridges, where houseless people sleep and try to stay out of the way of the public for numerous reasons. I was told of many forms of the sweeps and certain numbers of people were arrested. Ok! I get all kinds of calls and people tell me all kinds of things.So, I waited till it was time for the “Under the Bridge Walk”. As we gather to go people were telling us that there was no one under the bridges. When we got to our normal place, to my surprise, all the places were empty. Not one person was there, it was like a ghost town. As noisy as under the bridges are, you could hear the silences, the pain, and the hurt. I fought back my tears in my 12yrs of living on the Portland streets. I’ve never seen nothing so devastated, when I say NO ONE! I mean NO ONE! was there. Where is everybody? Where did they go? As we walk more and more we saw people running and O! that’s it . It was a marathon, WTF here it is folks sweep the trash under a rug so your guest will not see what your house really looks like. Well Portland and the World there is a HOUSELESS problem in this country in every city in America. Live with it until the people that we vote in political office do something about it, OR WE WILL!

  1. Meredith says:

    I don’t see any contact info for the author of this article. Can I interview you for my Public Policy Paper? I am a community Development major. My email is

  2. When I first moved to Portland I lived in an apartment above the Shanghai tunnel. I remember how my friends and I would (and still do) hush our voices when we would encounter someone sleeping on the sidewalk out of respect for their right to dream. I remember being astounded at the numbers of people surviving on the streets, sleeping under the Burnside Bridge. This was before the giant mall-like concrete fountain was built, before the beautiful mural of Packy the elephant was removed from the Skidmore Fountain Building, before that odiously classist sit and lie law was enacted.

    I remember the sweeps taking place then, the police would force people out from under the bridge, onto the streets where there was no protection from wind and rain. I remember the first dead body I encountered on my walk to work. He was laying on his back, looking up to the sky, eyes wide open and glazed steel blue. He looked about 35-40 and had streaks of grey in his hair. A crowd of folks had gathered shaking their heads, clicking tongues and sighing their sighs. As I hurried to work in the SE that morning, across the Burnside Bridge, I was stressed out about making my rent that month, I remember feeling violently ill and angry because it was cold and wet and people just wanted to sit and rest under a structure to stay a little drier.

    It seemed to me that the city officials were embarrassed that there were so many people without homes in Portland. It seemed to me that these officials wanted all the tourists visiting the Saturday Market to shop without the knowledge that hundreds of women and children and men used the same area as a place to lay their bodies and heads at night. I though it much more shameful to have folks dying on the street in the cold wet Portland night.

    I can still see that dead mans eyes, frozen and blue. I think about him each time I shiver,and each time I walk across that bridge. And each time I hug one of my brothers.

    Thank you so very much for your post and your involvement with the houseless community in PDX.

    Solidarity Forever,
    Kathryn “Kat Meow” Garcia.

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