EUGENE, Ore. -- Eugene Police said they’re ramping up patrols downtown because of increased complaints from the public about nuisance people, but dozens of homeless youth told KVAL News they feel these patrols are targeting them unfairly.
"I'm standing right here because I got a park exclusion, and the park starts right here at this line,” said Diana Tynan just outside the park blocks on 8th and Oak Street in downtown Eugene on Thursday.
Tynan is homeless and was caught breaking one of the park’s rules last week—no glass container in the parks.
“It just so happens that the only soda that I like was in a glass bottle--cream soda,” she said, “and I wasn’t even littering with it. It was just sitting next to me while I was in the park.”
For that violation Tynan got a ticket that carries with it a $200 fine. And the officer also banned her from all city parks for 30 days.
Instead of paying the fine, Tynan and a group of activists said they’re fighting back with what they call a cop watch.
“We're out here just watching the cops like they're watching us,” said Tynan as she stood beside a booth set up in the park—equipped with video equipment and textile prints of the group’s message.
Tynan said she believes the police are targeting the homeless because of the upcoming Olympic Track Trials, which brings more business and foot traffic to downtown shops.
“Pretty much, they don’t want homeless people out here at the parks during the day because it looks messy,” she added.
KVAL News talked with Eugene Police, who said they do not have any policy of harassment towards the homeless. They said they are ramping up patrols downtown because of more complaints of people breaking laws and rules in the parks.
Still, many homeless people downtown told KVAL News they’re being targeted.
“The best way that I could describe it, social cleansing,” said Tynan. “Everybody that you see here, the homeless people, they’re going to get them to go elsewhere, which is not right because it’s our land just as much as it is theirs.”
Tyan was also given a $150 fine last Wednesday for improperly using a cross-walk while crossing Oak Street.
She said she will fight both tickets in court.