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Homeless advocate's charges dropped from 2022 riverfront celebration incident

Photo provided by the Civil Liberties Defense Center.
Eugene resident and homeless advocate Sam Yergler, holding his ban from City of Eugene parks and spaces.

The City of Eugene has dropped charges against a homeless advocate who disrupted a public event last June.

Samuel Yergler was at the grand opening of the newly completed first-leg of the Downtown Riverfront Park project. As officials gave remarks, Yergler openly criticized the expense of the project, and sweeps of homeless camps.

He was then arrested and cited, which excluded him from all city parks for 30 days. Yergler was also criminally charged in Eugene Municipal Court for violating park rules, and faced up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

“I was calling out the city, and in return I was treated the way that many unhoused people are treated, and that’s being criminalized,” Yergler told KLCC.

Now, stating it had no “compelling interest” in the matter, the City of Eugene dismissed the charges this past week.

“Even though at the end of the day, the city wasn’t going to proceed, they just made me jump through all these hoops to prove the fact that I was not breaking the law, and I had legitimate grievances against them.”

Yergler says arrests and detainment can discourage critics of the city’s homeless policies and development, and thanks the Civil Liberties Defense Center for their representation of him in the matter. Yergler says he’ll continue his advocacy for the homeless.

The City of Eugene has not responded to requests for comment.

©2023, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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