More than two weeks after a homeless encampment that drew dozens to the steps of Portland City Hall started, most people had dispersed by Saturday afternoon.

Cleaners were working to wash the sidewalk and some items, including a large pile of tarps and blankets, remained near the street.

Aubrey Trout, a coordinating committee member with the Poor People’s Campaign, was among a handful of activists who remained on site. Trout said the campaign was involved in providing support to organizers and the homeless who had stayed at the encampment and some people had remained on site to support people as they packed up their belongings. She said she did not know where people had dispersed to.

“I think the biggest takeaway and thing to stress is we’re all in this together,” Trout said. “There are a lot of us and we’re not going to go away. Things have to change.”

The sleep-out demonstration, which started late last month, lasted more than two weeks until Thursday, when organizers withdrew from the endeavor, leaving the dozens of homeless people who joined them to find another place to go.

The effort was aimed at drawing attention to the challenges of unhoused people, and they were also joined in support by people with housing. Organizers said they planned to stay at City Hall until the city met a list of demands: to freeze evictions, legalize outdoor camping, build more affordable housing, create overdose prevention sites, defund the police and invest more into social services.

Cleanup started Thursday, however, after the city presented a letter to organizer Jess Falero in which City Manager Jon Jennings said in writing that the First Amendment action was over, and extended the city’s assistance to move people and belongings off the plaza.

Tricia Smith, an organizer with the Poor People’s Campaign, and Morgan Russell, an activist and supporter, were also among the handful of people who remained outside City Hall on Saturday.

Russell said some at the encampment had been told it would be criminal trespassing to remain. “Where are they supposed to go?” she asked. “The broader message I’m getting is, ‘Don’t exist.'”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.