Late Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 14, at around 3 pm, Eugene police officers and county workers began moving homeless protest campers from the county-owned “butterfly lot.”
This came briefly after the county sent out an email about the forthcoming action.
“Based on several reported health and safety concerns, Lane County had no other option than to declare the butterfly lot property in downtown Eugene closed and limit access to the property in order to clean and remediate the soil and infrastructure,” the county’s statement says.
Eugene City Councilor Emily Semple, of the downtown ward, says she was shocked to hear about this action. She says she was walking downtown when she saw a police presence at the butterfly lot. She hadn’t checked her email at the time, but says she was emailed less than an hour earlier about the move.
“I’m just really surprised they didn’t give people 24-hours notice,” Semple says. She says she questions the legality of this. Barriers were placed around the lot.
Semple says most of the campers who were at the lot were given bus passes to go to the campsite off of Highway 99 and their belongings, including tents, were transported in a trailer separately. Those who were not present at the time of the move, Semple says, had all unclaimed tents and belongings hauled to a storage site in Glenwood.
“That place closes at 5 [pm],” Semple says. “So the people who weren’t here won’t have their things tonight.”
She continues: “They’re going to be very cold tonight.”
She also says Glenwood is not a close destination for those who need to get their things. “It’s not a walk,” she says.
The statement from the county says that the campers had to be relocated due to “reports of public urination and defecation, threats of violence and a fire that resulted in injury.”
The statement continues to say that the county wishes to connect the unhoused with resources at the Highway 99 camp and other services.
“Spaces are available at Camp 99 and the nearby Dusk to Dawn location for those who choose to leave the closed property,” the statement reads.