The Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza has long been home to, well, free speech. But the R-G is reporting that Lane County Administrator Liane Richardson has signed an order putting the kibosh on free speech at the plaza for now in response to a protest.
Eugene SLEEPS, an offshoot of Occupy Eugene, set up tents in the plaza Dec. 10 after the Eugene City Council did not move on modifying the city's camping ban. SLEEPS, which stands for Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep, has been advocating to have the camping ban lifted before winter weather sets in. In 2008 a homeless veteran, Major Thomas Egan, froze to death on the street in Eugene during a cold spell.
The Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza is on indefinite closure, the R-G reports and it says:
There are rules about using the plaza in regard to health and safety,” county spokeswoman Jennifer Inman said. “This is really about the issue of camping, rather than the free-speech aspect” of the protest.
Back in September the R-G reported that Richardson was advocating to ban smoking in the plaza, which in addition to being a frequent protest site, is also a popular weekend hangout during Saturday Market.
If Lane County starts calling for a ban on drum circles, then we'll know it really has it in for the Free Speech Plaza.