October 28th, 2011 | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: Activism, Politics, Business, City Hall

Street Families Say They Will Make Occupy Portland a No-Violence Zone and Take Their Disputes Elsewhere

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Two of Portland's street kid "families" have brokered a truce declaring Occupy Portland's two camps a neutral, non-violent zone.

Occupiers tell WW that the threat of assaults in camp has dropped in since yesterday, when the two groups, the "A" Camp Family and the Juggalos, agreed to keep all disputes out of Chapman and Lownsdale Squares.

"The word on the curb is that some of the groups—the Juggalos, the Family—have decided that this is a non-violent place," said Jimmy Tardy, a member of the camp's Volunteer Committee. "And those cats are the ones who did it. They decided on their own."

Tardy said he watched the truce in action around 8 pm Thursday. Six street kids in an argument at Occupy Portland decided to schedule a fight away from the parks. "'Yeah, we're gonna fight, and it's the three of us against the three of you, but we're gonna do it off-camp,'" Tardy reported hearing.

Michael Landers-Marlow, a member of the Safety/Peacekeeping Committee, confirmed that the two street families are directing violent confrontations outside of Occupy Portland.

"They want to feel safe here," Landers-Marlow said. "And if one group kicks another group out...it's gonna be war."

Street families are tightly knit groups of homeless teenagers, with strict codes and vicious rivalries. In Rene Denfeld's 2007 book All God's Children, she described Portland street families as "a unique creation of street kids, combining elements of fantasy games, Dungeons and Dragons, prison codes, punk fashion, and pagan religions."

Street kids have clustered at the Occupy Portland camps, particularly on benches at the northeast corner of each park, but on Thursday night their numbers were down, and little partying could be seen.

"It was really bad a few days ago," said Sarah Morrigan, who coordinates the camp's chaplains program. She tells WW that street kids and homeless residents have taken ownership in Occupy Portland in the last two days. "It feels like a brand new world has been born."

The mood in the camp was notably tranquil Thursday night—perhaps owing to the truce, or maybe thanks to a man playing Cat Stevens' "Morning Has Broken" on a Yamaha Clavinova electric piano next to the kitchen.

General Assembly Proposal of the Night: Randy White, the founder of social networking web site Bright Neighbor, asked GA to consider composting the Occupy Portland camp's feces using red wiggler worms. "You can take the waste product of this camp and turn it into a sustainable monetary source for this movement," he said. Red wiggler worms double their numbers every 90 days, White said, but he added that it takes three years of vermicomposting for the Food and Drug Administration to approve the new soil. "Does anybody have any clarifying questions for the worm farmer?" asked the GA moderator.

Cardboard Sign of the Times: "There sure are a lot of protesters at this orgy."

Staff writer Hannah Hoffman contributed to this report.

 
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