New protest camp takes root in North Eugene

EUGENE, Ore. - Protesters who want a legal place to camp on public property pitched their tents in the shadow of a porn shop in north Eugene.

The group SLEEPS - for Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep - put up 24 tents on public land near the Chambers Connector. The camp is home for about 50 people.

Peter Grotticelli pitched the first tent 8 days ago. He said they are protesting the City of Eugene's no camping policy. Another SLEEPS protester, Ambrose Holtham-Keathley, told KVAL News, "Each tent on this encampment is exercising their First Amendment rights to protest the city's camping ban."

Grotticelli said Opportunity Village is great but the problem is bigger than that effort can accommodate.

The land where the camp is located is owned by Lane County and includes a City of Eugene right-of-way.

Howard Schussler with Lane County Public Works said the campers don't have permission to camp there. He said signs should have been posted late Tuesday (Sept. 3) notifying the campers to pack up and move out. Eugene Police will be called and Schussler adds, "They go out and they'll cite. I'm sure they'll ask for voluntary compliance and then they'll cite them, if they don't move."

The county took a similar course of action with the SLEEPS camp at the Lane County Fairgrounds last week. Lane County Commissioners tomorrow (Wedn.) are set to discuss possible emergency action to address the main SLEEPS camp at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza at the county courthouse.

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