The Ferry Street Bridge Incident

Eight Arrested for Sleeping in Eugene, Fined $100 Each
By Alley Valkyrie

On the night of April 4, fourteen people were camped in a group on public property underneath an overpass near the Ferry Street Bridge. Police woke them up around 1:15a.m. on April 5 and arrested eight people, four men and four women ranging in age from 18 to 37 years old. Six others were not arrested and deliberately left behind to “clean up the mess” and take care of the dogs that belonged to those who were arrested. Those who were left behind were told by another officer that they would be arrested the following night if they remained at the location.

The eight who were arrested were originally cited for criminal trespass, a misdemeanor and a jailable offense, and they were all held in the Lane County Jail overnight. Early the next morning, the city prosecutor decided to drop the criminal trespass charges and instead charge them with prohibited camping, which is a violation and not an arrestable offense. They were arraigned at the Lane County Jail around noon, where they all pled no contest to the charge of prohibited camping, and each was fined $100. They were released from the custody of the jail around 2:45 p.m. on April 5.
After they were released, the campers returned to the same location where they were arrested, as they had nowhere else to go.

Later that afternoon, I had several conversations with a command officer from the Eugene Police Department. After discussing what
I viewed to be significant policy violations and legal concerns, I was contacted later in the evening and told that the police were currently “reassessing their approach” to dealing with the campers and would not be arresting anyone at the location until further notice. Despite this assurance, the campers were again awakened by a police officer around two in the morning on April 6 and threatened with arrest, although the officer did not follow through with the threat.

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