August 15th, 2013 | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: City Hall, Activism, Housing, PDX News, Politics

Terry Schrunk Plaza Homeless Protest Digs In, Fights Feds, Makes Spaghetti

sidewalknoodleA woman seasons spaghetti on the Southwest Madison Street sidewalk - Aaron Mesh

Portland City Hall still doesn't have any food carts in its lobby—but there's plenty of street grub across Southwest 4th Avenue.

The homeless protest swept from the sidewalk in front of City Hall last month has dug in at federally owned Terry Shrunk Plaza, and people involved say they won't leave until Mayor Charlie Hales allows some tent camping in the center city.

"We aren't going to leave until at least part of the camping ban is rescinded," says Michael Withey, a homeless advocate who camped at the 2011 Occupy Portland protest. He says the protest's goal is forcing City Council to pass a six-point homelessness plan that includes letting churches host campsites in their parking lots.

"We demand that people without shelter be able to erect a tent over their heads at night," Withey says. "We're not asking. We're demanding."

The protesters have planted tents in the plaza, are cooking pots of spaghetti on the Southwest Madison Street sidewalk, and have developed an uneasy relationship with federal officers.

The Oregonian reported last night that a 20-year-old man has been charged with threatening to kill a federal officer who confiscated a bicycle from the plaza.

The protest across the street from City Hall now includes at least 50 people. It has become a magnet for people who say they have nowhere else to go.

This morning, a woman in a gray Los Angeles Dodgers ballcap was straining a pot of spaghetti and pulled chicken into a plastic bucket, after boiling the noodles on a bunsen burner.

"I'm not telling you my name," she said. "We're the freedom fighters. We're the human rights activists."

But as she seasoned the spaghetti with grated parmesan from a spice rack on a cart, the woman complained about the difficulty of feeding dozens of street kids.

"We're the mommy and the daddy," she said. "And the mommies and the daddies take care of a lot of children. The children steal their food stamps for drugs, and get into fights, and have the cops come."

 
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