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Advocates staging protest on homeless cleanups
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Advocates staging protest on homeless cleanups

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Nick Martin, left, and senior pastor Jennifer Butler of the First United Congregational Church of Christ talk in June to a woman living in the woods near the BMX track in Corvallis. Butler and others have organized a "camp-in" protest Thursday in downtown Corvallis. 

Advocates who disagree with city of Corvallis policies on homeless camp cleanups plan to protest Thursday.

Advocates are planning a “camp-in” from 5 a.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday at the City Hall plaza on Madison Avenue and in Central Park.

“The city of Corvallis continues to post and sweep camps where people who are houseless have been able to sleep nightly,” said a press release from the group. “It’s the latest turn in a cycle in which authorities roust houseless people out of a spot where they had been living; those newly uprooted people are forced to find new places to sleep at other camp sites, which eventually become targets of other sweeps.”

The advocates are calling on city officials to designate areas in which homeless people can sleep without being forced to find a new location every night.

The Corvallis City Council has addressed the issue numerous times since the pandemic broke out in March 2020. Councilors voted April 5 of this year to start cleaning up camps by May 15. That vote overrode a decision in February to delay camping enforcement until 30 days after the state’s COVID emergency has expired or March 15, 2022, whichever came first.

At the July 19 meeting councilors voted 6-2 to continue the sweeps, despite the consistent criticism of the actions from advocates during council community comments periods.

City crews and those of the Oregon Department of Transportation have been cleaning up camps since mid-May, with Pioneer Park, the BMX area, Shawala Point and the skate park, the Orleans-Berg natural areas and Willamette Park the main targets. According to city staff, as of the July 19 meeting, a total of 85 camps have been cleaned up.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@lee.net or 541-812-6116. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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