Life Isn’t Free in Portland

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Homelessness in Portland Life is free. Our mothers and fathers gave it to us, freely offering their joy and pain.

Air is free. We breathe in and out our basic life sustaining force without a bill.

Love is free. If someone’s care and devotion is a tit-for-tat we might call it “desire” or “lust” but not love.

Water and sunlight are free. God freely pours down from the sky to all what we need to survive.

So, City of Portland, why do you say that unless we pay for sleep, we might be ticketed or even arrested? Why harass and criminalize the homeless because they are trying to sleep? Sleep is a natural process, one that all of us do without exception, so why punish us for it?

Without a night of sleep, our mind is slow, as if we were drunk.
Longer lack of sleep causes extreme sensitivity to stress and pain.
Lack of sleep causes mental instability.
A longer time without sleep leads to hallucinations.
To still be without sleep risks death.

IMG_20140326_172531 Well, perhaps sleep is a bad thing, but only in public, like sex or urination.
Because we know how disgusting it is to watch a baby sleep.
Or a child. I’m sure everyone is offended by watching a student fall asleep at a computer at a library. I don’t think anyone complains about a businessman, exhausted, fall asleep at a bus stop.

No, what sweeps really are is a punishment of the poorest people in our city. It communicates how the city despises them, and are willing to treat people unjustly for doing what we all must do: sleep. They are being punished because they do not have a paid-for place to sleep in, as if they are destroying the rest of our livelihood, just by sleeping in public.

Charlie Hales, Police Chief O’Dea, City Council: This is your legacy to the future: injustice, preventing people from having that which they need to sustain their lives. Your prejudice against the poor will be the most important aspect of your policies, that which will be remembered for all time.

If you would like to call Mayor Charlie Hales to protest the ticketing and harassment of the homeless who are just trying to find a place to sleep, then call his voicemail line: 503-823-4120. If you’d like to send a message to the city council, send an email to Nick Fish:

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