City Hall campers behavior ‘mostly legal’

A homeless camper outside Portland City Hall, July 15, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
A homeless camper outside Portland City Hall, July 15, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In the middle of the afternoon during the work week, homeless campers pass a pipe back and forth for several minutes as they sit just a few feet from the front door of Portland City Hall.

A homeless camper outside Portland City Hall, July 15, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
A homeless camper outside Portland City Hall, July 15, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

In some cases, KOIN 6 News found city hall campers drinking from beer cans while pedestrians stepped around the makeshift camp.

Portland Police Bureau Chief Mike Reese said most of what’s happening there is not cause for arrest.

“I think most of the behavior you see is legal,” he told KOIN 6 News.

But he didn’t have time to watch the video of campers passing the pipe, opening beer cans and pouring them into metal water bottles.

A homeless camper outside Portland City Hall, July 15, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
A homeless camper outside Portland City Hall, July 15, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

Officers walked by the group, but it was not clear if any of that behavior was visible to the officers.

“Certainly if we see people engaged in illegal behavior we’re going to take appropriate action,” Reese said.

The city of Portland has a sidewalk obstruction ordinance that calls for keeping sidewalks clear, but there are no other restrictions. KOIN 6 News saw those passing by forced to step over people, sleeping bags, suitcases and garbage and walk around shopping carts.

One homeless woman tripped and fell on some of the clutter. She then was carried by other campers to another area of the sidewalk — still in front of Portland City Hall.

KOIN 6 News attempted multiple times to get a comment from Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. He did not return calls or meet with KOIN at his office.

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