(en) OR: Court Victory, Needle Exchange...

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Tue, 26 Aug 1997 02:44:17 +0000


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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 23:25:04 -0700 (PDT) From: Anti-Prohibition Lg <aal@inetarena.com> To: drctalk@drcnet.org, drctalk@ns2.calyx.net Cc: hemp@efn.org Subject: OR: Court Victory, Needle Exchange...

NOTE: PLEASE EXCUSE DUPLICATION, WIDESPREAD DISTRIBUTION IN LIGHT OF DRCTALK DOWN. THANK YOU. Floyd. -------------------------------------------------------------------- BELMONT LAW CENTER 3428 SE Belmont Street, Portland, Oregon 97214 503-234-2694 / blc@hevanet.com *** *** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE *** Tuesday, August 26, 1997 *** COURT VICTORY FOR THE HARM-REDUCTION ZONE Local police say it's a "nuisance," judge calls it "admirable."

SE Portland needle exchange, free food cart will continue to aid addicts, homeless, and hungry. +++ Portland, Oregon -- On April 11th around 4:30p.m. Portland Police were summoned to the Wells Fargo Bank at SE 38th & Hawthorne to investigate a complaint of "homeless people" blocking the sidewalk. Within minutes several officers, including shift-supervisors, arrived on the scene. At first officers ignored the familiar sight of Floyd Landrath standing by his cart and proceeded into the bank to find out just what the problem was. When the bank manger explained her dismay over a man with a cart outside the bank, instead of explaining the long-running operation to the bank manager, police used the situation to issue Mr. Landrath a citation for an alleged violation of City Ordinance 14.20.010, "Obstruction as nuisance."

"I don't blame anyone in the bank, they were new to the area and no one told them about the zone. I can understand their concern, I just wish they would have talk to me directly before calling the police," said Landrath, founder and volunteer coordinator for the Harm Reduction Zone, (HRZ). "In this case I think the police overreacted, the courts have noted and corrected that," he said.

For over 5 years Landrath, along with many volunteers, has operated a sidewalk soup-kitchen which provides free food, conducts the only regular needle exchange in Southeast Portland, and offers harm reduction information to help injecting drug users avoid diseases like AIDS and Hepatitis C. Landrath is also a well-know community activist. He has been arrested several times in pursuit of his political goals and his outspoken opposition to the drug war. Until now no formal charges had ever been filed against him.

So, on Friday, August 15, at the Multnomah County Courthouse after about a 1 hour hearing, Judge Mary Overgaard found Floyd Ferris Landrath not guilty of obstructing the sidewalk. "I am very thankful that Judge Overgaard realized the Constitutional issues here, and it was encouraging that she also thinks our modest efforts are, as she said, 'admirable,'" Landrath said after the hearing.

Paul Loney, Landrath's attorney, argued and Judge Overgaard agreed, that not only was the pedestrian flow on Hawthorne unimpeded by the HRZ but that Mr. Landrath was exercising his constitutionally protected rights of free speech, assembly and association. Paul Loney argued that the police should have focused on the real problems, if they existed, of who, if anyone was blocking the sidewalk. "The police have the discretion and hopefully training to recognize the exercise of political speech and to focus on the real issue, if it existed, whether or not the pedestrian flow on the sidewalk was impeded," stated attorney Loney.

With the criminal matter now behind them, a civil law suit against the police is being considered by Landrath and his attorney.

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