The Portland City Council is considering extending the city's controversial sit-lie ordinance. You can read background on the controversy in this morning's edition of The Oregonian. What follows is my letter to members of the council on the issue:
Portland City Council Members:
I want to remind the Council of the historic opposition to the sit-lie ordinance expressed by Portland’s religious leaders over many years. The sit-lie ordinance is another way of criminalizing homelessness. A decision to extend the ordinance will be seen by many as a moral failing on the part of council leaders. One day these votes will be seen in the same light as the “Jim Crow” laws history now views so harshly. In no one way do I mean to compare any of you to the segregationists of old but the sit-lie ordinance and other laws specifically directed at people who are homeless fit in the same category as those laws used here in Portland and across the nation to punish people based on the color of their skin. Now we are simply punishing people based on their economic and / or housing status. I ask you to prayerfully consider the consequences of your actions and to abandon support for these unjust laws.
Rev. Chuck Currie