Whose Freezing Streets

The Eugene City Council met Oct. 26 to discuss vandalism, Election Day safety, cold weather shelter and passing city code amendments. With an upcoming election and higher than usual tensions around the country, public safety is on police Chief Chris Skinner’s mind, Councilor Mike Clark said. The police commissioners are having a meeting to discuss additional policy 5:30 pm Thursday, Oct 28.

Election Day, Nov. 3, is approaching, and we are well aware of speculation and anxiety nationwide and locally about the potential for unrest. We understand the variety of potential outcomes and will be here in any scenario to serve our community and provide safety,” Skinner said in a public statement.

From the weekly organized Trump drive down Franklin Boulevard, where outspoken individuals parade their MAGA merch down the main corridor to campus, to the months of Black Lives Matter protests following the police killing of George Floyd, Councilor Claire Syrett said many are concerned with what could come of election night. 

As Election Day controversy looms, one instance of public defacement caught the attention of the City Council. A mural in the alleyway between 7th Avenue and Willamette Street, behind the White Lotus Gallery, has been defaced with splatters of blue paint. The mural depicted Charlie Landeros, who was killed by Eugene police in 2019, as well as a police officer. The mural was controversial among some community members for its martyr-like depiction of Landeros and the presence of a police officer. 

In a previous City Council meeting, councilor Mike Clark likened the mural to painting white supremicist or Nazi symbols, saying some symbols are more “controversial.” Each councilor shared remarks, most condemning the vandalism. 

“The vandalism of the mural is truly horrible. I recognize people have very strong feelings on the images that were on that piece but that was not the way to resolve this challenging situation. […] As someone that’s worked in the arts, this kind of thing is despicable,” Syrett said.

After discussing vandalism and safety, city councilors moved to discuss the recent cold weather impact on the unhoused, and Brooke Freed from the city manager’s office spoke on the city’s winter shelter preparations.

“The city of Eugene has been collaborating with Lane County and other local partners for winter warming and emergency shelter strategies. […] The strategies include five new rest stops, additional microsites that our staff are setting up with local partners, as well as lane counties efforts on non-congregate shelter options like the ‘hotel-motel.’”

This issue was a focus of discussion as well among the public, with the public forum focused almost exclusively on options for a homeless shelter and the nature of being unhoused.

“I think that the mistake being made in my community is criminalizing when there is no other place to be, no other place to go, [it] is unfair,” member of the public Martha Bryson said.

After the public forum the City Council took action on the recently discussed city code amendment to extend land use grants for three more years. This amendment passed unanimously.

To watch this week’s Eugene City Council meeting or to join the Zoom call for future meetings, visit Eugene-or.gov/3360/Webcasts-and-Meeting-Materials.

EW Extra is Eugene Weekly’s additional online meetings and breaking news coverage supplementing our regular, weekly, in-depth reporting.