Contact: Gwendolyn Iris
Photo credit: Gregory Walker
On Saturday, November 17, Occupy Eugene activist Gwendolyn Iris climbed a $70,000 chain link fence that bars access to Eugene’s old City Hall near 8th and High and chained herself to it in protest of the City’s lack of action for the unhoused.
“This is a symbolic action on my part,” Iris said. “I want to call attention to the fact that there’s been little to no progress made on the agreements that the city made with members of Occupy Eugene last year around the closing of the site [Washington-Jefferson Park]. There was supposed to be $100,000 allocated towards a new wet bed facility.” A wet bed facility is a shelter that provides a place for chronically alcoholic homeless men and women to sleep.
Iris also said a women’s and children’s shelter had been discussed at the time the City closed the Occupy Eugene site at Washington-Jefferson Park.
The breaching of the old City Hall’s new fence came after a day of activism, called Act Against Apathy, spearheaded by Iris and others in Occupy Eugene. The day’s events included a rally during which homeless people and their advocates spoke, recited poetry, marched, and held a memorial at the steps of the old City Hall for the homeless people who have died on the streets of Eugene in the last two years. Activists also served hot meals at a kitchen set up in the Park Blocks to anyone who needed one.
Iris plans to stay until Monday when she has to return to her job. She encourages people to come see her and talk about the problems of homelessness and possible solutions. “While we’re angry,” she says, “at the same time we are also solution-based. We want to help make things right. We are not expecting it all from the city.”
This press release is from the Communications Committee of Occupy Eugene that has been empowered to speak on behalf of the larger Occupy Eugene body.