Protesters pitch camp at fairgrounds

EUGENE, Ore. - Protesters who want a public place for people to legally sleep in Eugene have pitched camp at the Lane County Fairgrounds.

Eugene SLEEPS, which stands for Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep, has had tents near the Farmers Market in downtown Eugene and said they planned to spread out to other locations.

The group had been kicked out of the Free Speech Plaza at the Lane County Courthouse. The people trespassed from that camp successfully beat the citations in court.

Angie Bartow at the SLEEPS camp downtown said the protesters are working with the Tuesday and Saturday markets vendors to avoid disrupting the market.

The camp along 13th Avenue in Eugene at the fairgrounds is new.

County Commissioner Pat Farr said he isn't sure the court ruling overturning trespass notices for the Free Speech Plaza governs the fairgrounds, too. "The judge's order on the Wayne Morse Plaza, that's one thing. But when things start happening more closely to people's neighborhoods. I think we'll hear an outcry from people, that they just don't want to see it happening."

Farr said the county would likely call the Eugene Police Department if the camp remains in place.