The Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep (SLEEPS) folks are challenging the closure of free speech plaza — a fence is now closing off the free speech plaza to prevent more protesting. (Would you like some paprika to sprinkle on that irony?) At least one protester has been cited. Here is the latest SLEEPS press release we’ve received; we’ll be updating if we hear more:
12:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 13:
SLEEPS will return to FREE SPEECH PLAZA at 1PM today, Thursday, to challenge the unconstitutional closing of the plaza in response to the SLEEPS protest there December 10-12. County Administrator Liann Richardson ordered the plaza closed Tuesday Dec. 11 at 11 PM citing that it was for the purpose of public safety, closing it to everyone in the public. “This is preposterous. The county is denying every single Eugenian access to this protest site, a blatant affront of every single individual’s First Amendment Rights. Suggesting that because unhoused people have been in the area that there is a “biohazard” is the most atrocious stereotypical hatemongering possible,” said one of the protestors.Hippies and others hang out in this area all the time. Across the street Saturday market has potties and food sales every weekend. Have we ever seen those areas closed down as a public safety issue? The unhoused at Free Speech Plaza used public toilets, cooked no food and both maintained and left the space immaculate as numerous television and print media photos and videos document.“It is clear that the county will use any excuse to keep those who are unhoused from being able to have their voices herd. I feel like I’m back in the sixties when people who are black were blocked from public spaces and denied their civil rights. Hopefully EDP will not allow themselves to be used as a tool in the preposterous closing of Free Speech Plaza on public safety issue. It is obvious this is a disengenious attempt to deny us our first amendment rights, said another protestor.”
4:01 pm Thursday, Dec. 13:
Here’s a press release from EPD:
A group of about 50 people moved illegally into the closed Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza, 125 E. 8th Avenue. The plaza had been closed by the Lane County Administrator on December 11, 2012 at 11 p.m. and was still closed for cleaning.Today, the group that was trespassing was advised by the county administrator that if they did not leave the closed area, they would be subject to arrest. Time was provided for those who wished to leave. All but one person voluntarily left. Cited in lieu of custody and released at around 2:15 p.m. was Alley Valkyrie, age 30, of Eugene. She has been charged with Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree.Over the past few days, the City of Eugene has been proactively reaching out to organizers of this group, to help them safely engage in constitutionally-protected free speech while also enforcing laws, protecting the safety and freedom of others, and minimizing community disruption and the impact to public resources.