When And Where Is Sleep A Legal Right?

Meeting:  October 11, 2013
Aired on KLCC:  October 13, 2013

Guest Speakers: Alley Valkyrie, activist and community organizer; Pat Farr, Lane County Commission; and

Professor Ofer Raban, University of Oregon School of Law

The program for this Friday Forum will explore homelessness as a civil rights issue. City and county authorities closed down a number of illegal campsites this summer. Campers who were evicted from areas called “environmentally sensitive” asked where they should go. They were given no options, but simply told to leave the area. During the same period, a municipal court judged ruled that the county had violated the free speech rights of a group that was camping in the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza.

Lane County Commissioners voted to close the Wayne Morse Plaza to all activity between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am. SLEEPS (Safe, Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep) then began setting up camps known as "Whovilles" on various public properties in Eugene. That organization maintains that such encampments are an expression of free speech in protest of the city’s and county’s failure to provide any legal place for homeless people to camp. On September 23rd, the Eugene City Council approved an ordinance to permit overnight camping for groups of up to 15 people at certain designated locations yet to be determined.

Three speakers will present their points of view on the issue of sleep as a legal right.
Alley Valkyrie focuses on civil rights issues as they affect the poor and unhoused, especially laws and policies that criminalize homelessness. She has been an activist and community organizer for over a decade and is active with the SLEEPS protest and the Whovilles. She looks forward to the day when everyone has the right to sleep.

Pat Farr represents North Eugene on the Lane County Commission. Previous service has included the School Board for the Bethel School District, the Eugene City Council (twice), and the Oregon House of Representatives. He was the Executive Director of FOOD for Lane County and served six years in the Oregon Army National Guard. Other service includes the Board of Directors for the Oregon Food Bank, the Oregon Hunger Relief Task Force, the Oregon Commission on Child Care, the Lane County Human Services Commission, the Intergovernmental Housing Policy Board, and the SELCO Board of Directors. He came to the United States from England at the age of 10 and graduated from Tillamook High School in 1972. He met his wife Debi at the University of Oregon. They married in 1975 and raised three children.

Professor Ofer Raban, who joined the faculty of the University of Oregon School of Law in 2008, is an expert in constitutional law, constitutional criminal procedure, and legal theory. He previously served on the faculty of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and was a visitor at the Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. He has also has taught at Oxford University and the University of Puerto Rico. During a break from academia, he was a prosecutor in the Appeals and Special Litigation Division of the Westchester County District Attorney Office in New York.  Raban earned his bachelor’s degree from City College of New York, his J.D. from Harvard Law School, and his D.Phil. in legal theory from Oxford University.

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