Springfield tells the homeless: Move out of the city. KEPW’s Jana Thrift and Julie Lambert recorded this encounter with Springfield Police live on their show, Legalize Survival.
[00:00:11] Bernice Pogue: I knew that I could no longer really afford to rent, and I’ve been through that once before. And I went through the shelters and all that, and it was good, but I just don’t want to go that route again. I like being independent, on my own, and taking care of my own responsibilities.
[00:00:27] So I purchased a trailer and a truck: $20 grand. But I kind of got a bait-and-switch where the batteries for the truck and the trailer had all been switched out. I couldn’t even drive it all the way home because the battery wasn’t the right size for my truck, so it wouldn’t run very far. We were stuck on the freeway and I had to get it towed back here. So that kind of ate up a lot of money. And then batteries themselves are really expensive, so unfortunately that meant I had to choose and I needed batteries. I needed this to be running and I chose the batteries.
[00:01:00] Well, I had gotten a green tag on my trailer. First it was because part of it was on the sidewalk, so that was a violation. So I moved it and I ended up getting tagged again, for the registration not being paid.
[00:01:16] So I got a pounding at the door and I open the door and there’s a cop there, and he is asking me if I could step out of the trailer. And it was raining and I’m like, and I’m in my jammies, and I’m like, ‘Oh, I have to step out in the rain. Can you, you know, can I sit right here on the porch of the trailer and talk to you? Or—‘, and he is like, ‘No. And do you have ID?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ And he is like, ‘Well, why don’t you grab your ID and then come out?’ And I’m like, ‘Okay.’ So I grab my ID and I go out and they tell me they’re towing this trailer.
[00:01:44] And I start thinking, ‘Oh no, please.’ And I’m, like, trying to explain and, you know, ‘I am really trying, you know, I’m trying to reach out and I’m also trying to take care of just getting out of here so this isn’t a problem, but I’m not having luck. Please. A little more time.’
[00:02:00] Didn’t want to hear it. It was being towed, period. So then I’m like, ‘Can I get some stuff out of it?’ And he’s like, ‘No, you’re not going back into the trailer.’ And yeah, my trailer got towed.
[00:02:12] Finally, I got ahold of the place where it was towed and got information and it was going to cost me $830 to get it out. And that was just for the one day. So just the tow and, yeah, no extra days.
[00:02:29] So I took money that I did have for bills, like my phone bill, all that, all my bills, and put that money towards that. My phone’s already turned off. I will slowly be getting more and more turned off, which is just kind of sad because that means I’m that further behind again. You know, I can’t pay anything anymore. And that’s scary, but it’s a choice I had to make when you’re choosing between my only shelter or paying all my bills that are going to be ending here soon anyways because I’m moving. I chose the shelter and so, yeah.
[00:03:08] I just feel like, you know, I want people to hear this. I want people to know what’s going on. And I need help. Everyone needs help. This just isn’t fair when you’re barely surviving and you’re doing what you can.
[00:03:18] You know, I respect the law. Most people respect the law. Not everyone’s out there trying to break the law, but when your survival, your very survival becomes illegal, what do you do?
[00:03:31] Do you know, do you realize, when we leave here, there’s nowhere where we can be, really, that we’re allowed to be anymore? How is it that as soon as you lose your housing, you’re not even welcome in parks anymore? Bathrooms—I don’t think people really think about that. Just so many things just like snowball into a place where you’re just no longer welcome in society, nor do you even feel a part of it anymore.
[00:03:58] Julie Lambert: Hi. Welcome to the show, Olivia. (I like your glasses.) Oh, thank you. Are you still able to keep up with your schoolwork? (Mm-hmm. Yeah.) Okay. And do you play games at school? (Uh, yeah.) Okay, good. Well, thank you Bernice, for coming to, to join us.
[00:04:18] Bernice Pogue: Yeah. I have a knock on the door. I have police at my door right now. Hi, Officer Burke. I’m actually—this is being recorded. Okay, it’s this one? Yeah. Okay.
[00:04:31] Officer Joseph Burke: You were going to say something to me?
[00:04:33] Bernice Pogue: No, I’m just wondering, what now?
[00:04:37] Officer Joseph Burke: Okay. Well, a neighbor complained because they said that there’s a tank or something underneath your graywater tank or some bucket or something underneath.
[00:04:45] Bernice Pogue: Do you see anything?
[00:04:46] Officer Joseph Burke: I don’t see it.
[00:04:46] Bernice Pogue: There’s nothing there. I don’t—
[00:04:48] Officer Joseph Burke: You see an extension cord running across the sidewalk, which shouldn’t be.
[00:04:52] Bernice Pogue: Well, there’s no power and I’m trying to move out of a house that has no power, into here. And so my neighbors are letting me use their power to do that. (Okay.) Because I kind of need power.
[00:05:05] Officer Joseph Burke: I, I understand. (Okay.) What I’m advising you of is prohibited camping.
[00:05:10] Bernice Pogue: Okay. I’m not trying to do—
[00:05:12] Officer Joseph Burke: Did you want to listen? Because you, you told me that you’re recording me and you’d obviously like to hear what I have to say, I think. (Okay. Okay.) Camping in the City of Springfield is prohibited everywhere. (Okay?) On the street, in a driveway, anywhere.
[00:05:26] Bernice Pogue: Well, there’s, unless you have a permit (I’m, I’m trying to—) Unless you have a permit, you can get a permit.
[00:05:30] Officer Joseph Burke: Do you have a permit, ma’am?
[00:05:30] Bernice Pogue: I don’t, and I’m trying to get one.
[00:05:32] Officer Joseph Burke: We do not issue permits—
[00:05:33] Bernice Pogue: But you could at least let me know that because that is true. And if I was really not knowing that and struggling, it would be something I should be able to know, right? And you should know that, since you work for the City of Springfield.
[00:05:45] Officer Joseph Burke: May I give you the actual information so that you may receive it? Or are you only interested in—
[00:05:51] Bernice Pogue: I would love it. I would love it. Yes. ‘Cause I don’t want to keep being told repeatedly what I’m doing wrong. I would love a solution.
[00:05:58] Officer Joseph Burke: You let me know when it’s my turn to talk.
[00:05:59] Bernice Pogue: Okay. I’m ready for a solution.
[00:06:00] Officer Joseph Burke: Is it my turn to talk?
[00:06:01] Bernice Pogue: No, I don’t want to hear you tell me more of what I’m doing wrong, please.
[00:06:05] Officer Joseph Burke: Well then you don’t—
[00:06:06] Bernice Pogue: Can I have a solution then?
[00:06:07] Officer Joseph Burke: Then you do not want to hear reality.
[00:06:08] Bernice Pogue: I do want a solution.
[00:06:10] Officer Joseph Burke: The reality is—
[00:06:11] Bernice Pogue: I want a solution. You said you have—
[00:06:12] Officer Joseph Burke: You just want to interrupt?
[00:06:13] Bernice Pogue: No, I don’t want to interrupt.
[00:06:14] Officer Joseph Burke: All you’ve done is been rude and interrupt.
[00:06:15] Bernice Pogue: You know what? Because I’ve been doing nothing but harassed about it. You can’t tell me anything I don’t— it is because you’re not the first one. This isn’t the first time (okay) I’ve been made contact with.
[00:06:25] Officer Joseph Burke: Well, then I can tell you how to change that.
[00:06:27] Bernice Pogue: Okay. Please.
[00:06:28] Officer Joseph Burke: Move out of the city.
[00:06:29] Bernice Pogue: I can’t. (Okay.) I’m trying to, and you won’t stop bugging me.
[00:06:34] Officer Joseph Burke: What have you done to try?
[00:06:36] Bernice Pogue: Move my stuff. I mean, I’ve got to be able to move it, right?
[00:06:41] Officer Joseph Burke: How long have you been here?
[00:06:41] Bernice Pogue: Would you rather me just not go? Well, I’ve been renting here and now I’m coming to an end and I’m trying to leave, sir.
[00:06:47] Officer Joseph Burke: How long have you been camping here?
[00:06:49] Bernice Pogue: I’ve been living here. (I understand.) My trailer’s been my—
[00:06:52] Officer Joseph Burke: I didn’t ask you how long you’ve lived at this duplex. I asked you how long you’ve been living in this—
[00:06:56] Bernice Pogue: How am I camping if I’m paying rent here? It’s just in front of my rental.
[00:07:00] Officer Joseph Burke: Are you living in the trailer?
[00:07:01] Bernice Pogue: Just now.
[00:07:02] Officer Joseph Burke: Are you living in the house?
[00:07:03] Bernice Pogue: Well, when my landlord turned the power off, I was kind of forced to go where I can have power.
[00:07:08] Officer Joseph Burke: So you’re not. The answer is ‘No,’ then.
[00:07:09] Bernice Pogue: ‘No’ what? I’m back and I’m in both. I’m moving out of here into here.
[00:07:14] Officer Joseph Burke: I don’t understand why you’re so adversarial. I thought we were having a dialog.
[00:07:15] Bernice Pogue: I don’t understand why I have to be harassed over this all the time. I tell you—I am speaking English. And you just don’t want to hear it—
[00:07:22] Officer Joseph Burke: Just because you’re losing your mind doesn’t mean—
[00:07:23] Bernice Pogue: No, I’m answering you. I’m answering you and you are being like—
[00:07:27] Officer Joseph Burke: Just because you’re upset, just because you’re upset and behaving irrationally—
[00:07:28] Bernice Pogue: Okay, whatever. It feels like—what do you want from me? What do you want from me?
[00:07:33] Officer Joseph Burke: Conversation. I’m asking you for—
[00:07:34] Bernice Pogue: Fine. Okay. First of all, you came over for one thing and it’s not, there’s nothing under there. I don’t know what you’re talking about.
[00:07:38] Officer Joseph Burke: You’re camping. That’s unlawful.
[00:07:39] Bernice Pogue: I’m sorry, I’m trying to survive. I pay rent right here. It’s in front of my rental unit. It’s in front of my rental unit.
[00:07:46] Officer Joseph Burke: Are you willing to listen?
[00:07:47] Bernice Pogue: Ohh! Okay, I don’t know what to do.
[00:07:50] Officer Joseph Burke: There’s a $150 fine for every day you camp here—
[00:07:52] Bernice Pogue: Okay. Fine me more. Okay. That gets me even further away from getting away from here.
[00:07:56] Officer Joseph Burke: Then give me your driver’s license so I may write a citation.
[00:07:57] Bernice Pogue: Do you know I am trying—I’m trying to move!
[00:08:00] Officer Joseph Burke: You’re asking for a citation.
[00:08:01] Bernice Pogue: I’m, no, I’m not. I’m saying you’re not giving any other option.
[00:08:04] Officer Joseph Burke: You just said, ‘Fine me more.’
[00:08:06] Bernice Pogue: That’s all that you guys are doing!
[00:08:07] Officer Joseph Burke: Would you like me to write—
[00:08:08] Bernice Pogue: And that just makes me further and further and further—
[00:08:10] Officer Joseph Burke: I’m happy to assist you.
[00:08:12] Bernice Pogue: —from being able to make you happy.
[00:08:13] Officer Joseph Burke: Would you like me to write that citation?
[00:08:15] Bernice Pogue: What do you think? What do you think?
[00:08:17] Officer Joseph Burke: You asked me to. ‘Fine me more,’ was your demand to me.
[00:08:19] Bernice Pogue: I want to know an answer, a solution here. And you don’t give me any.
[00:08:22] Officer Joseph Burke: Your solution is to move. You’re telling me you can’t, but you haven’t told me how you can’t.
[00:08:26] Bernice Pogue: Where do I move to, so I can still unpack, pack up and get out of here? How do I be two places at once? Does it look like I’m fully packed?
[00:08:34] Officer Joseph Burke: I have no idea.
[00:08:34] Bernice Pogue: I said I’m trying to move, do you not understand? Okay. I am trying to move, I am like hurdled in between two places. You know what, why am I getting upset? (May I ask you a question?) Why am I getting upset, was that what you want to ask me? But, ok, I’ll stop talking. What do you want to ask me?
[00:08:50] Officer Joseph Burke: Stop interrupting.
[00:08:51] Bernice Pogue: What do you want? Yeah, I’m trying.
[00:08:52] Officer Joseph Burke: You understand conversations go two ways, right? There’s a back and forth between two people. It’s not screaming at one person. Thus far I’ve not raised my voice. I’ve not screamed at you. You have a child in there, at least one. And you’re setting the example for that child. I’m suggesting that you behave and set a better example so that that child learns how to behave like an adult.
[00:09:12] Bernice Pogue: Sir, I am trying. Well then let’s, what do we want? I don’t know what you want from me.
[00:09:17] Officer Joseph Burke: I’m asking you to lower the temperature. Stop. Stop with the fake tears and just have conversation.
[00:09:22] Bernice Pogue: Okay, can we get to a conversation, I just feel, all I’m getting is beat up right now.
[00:09:26] Officer Joseph Burke: You don’t have to call me Officer Burke, you can call me Joe. What’s your first name?
[00:09:30] Bernice Pogue: Bernice.
[00:09:31] Officer Joseph Burke: Bernice. You and I have not met before. You and I have not had a previous conversation about this. It is my inclination, from most people that don’t demand that I write them a cite, to give them a verbal warning. That’s what I prefer. If you’re demanding that I write you a cite, I’m happy to do that. If you would rather have a verbal warning, I’m happy to do that.
[00:09:50] But what I’m not going to do is come out here day after day after day and issue a simple verbal warning. That doesn’t happen.
[00:09:57] So Bernice, I’m telling you: Move this thing. I’m going to have a community service officer come out and tag it. If it’s not moved, then they will tow it. I don’t want to tow it. I’m not trying to add hardship to life. I’d like you to get your stuff in.
[00:10:11] Bernice Pogue: I move it, but it goes with me. And then when I come back, it comes with me. (Okay.) When I leave it goes. So I, I mean, I don’t—
[00:10:19] Officer Joseph Burke: There are places in Eugene and in the county that both seem not to care about people who camp on their property. Here in the City of Springfield, we do care. The citizens of Springfield care. That’s why they call us. We’re here to serve them and you, not just you. Not just your needs, but also their needs.
[00:10:41] So, Bernice, I’d like to help you. I don’t have a solution where you can park it, but I do observe when I drive to Eugene, that nobody seems to care at all about all this stuff happening in Eugene.
[00:10:52] Bernice Pogue: What?!
[00:10:52] Officer Joseph Burke: That is something I see there. I don’t see, I don’t—I see campers lining the streets in Eugene. We don’t have that here. And there’s a reason you don’t see that.
[00:11:01] Bernice Pogue: I see camping right down there.
[00:11:02] Officer Joseph Burke: On occasion you do see them.
[00:11:05] Bernice Pogue: Oh! (crying) And by the river. I see them in front yards. I see them everywhere in Springfield.
[00:11:09] Officer Joseph Burke: We get called about people camping, which you are doing. Then we attend to that matter. That is what we do. I don’t think I’ve been especially hard on you.
[00:11:19] Bernice Pogue: How can it be camping when I’m right there? That’s my unit. How is that camping? It’s right in front of a place I rent.
[00:11:25] Officer Joseph Burke: If I was camping in front of my house, it would still be camping in front of my house. And it’s still within the City of Springfield.
[00:11:30] Bernice Pogue: What if the power is turned off and illegal for landlords to turn off their power? …I’m in the process of moving. This is what I drive. This is what I, what you want me, so what, now I can’t even park in front of the unit that I’m moving out of?
[00:11:42] Officer Joseph Burke: I didn’t say you couldn’t park in front of it. I said, you can’t camp.
[00:11:48] Bernice Pogue: I’m not camping. I’m using the power ‘cause it’s here. (If you’re going to park—) and then I’m going to go back in—
[00:11:52] Officer Joseph Burke: I’m going to tell you how camping is defined in this city. Whether you’re in a camper, fifth wheel, a tent, a sleeping bag on the sidewalk, all of those things would be considered camping if you’re going to do it.
[00:12:04] John Q: The discussion lasted 15 minutes and was broadcast in its entirety on KEPW.
[00:12:11] Officer Joseph Burke: It sounds like we’re at an impasse of understanding. (Yes.) You don’t feel I’m understanding you? (Yeah.) And you’re definitely not understanding me, right? So we’ll deal with it in court at a later date. I’m giving you a verbal warning at this time.
[00:12:23] Julie Lambert: That was, that was the live issuance of not a citation, but a—
[00:12:30] Bernice Pogue: ‘You’re not welcome here anymore.’
[00:12:32] Julie Lambert: Yeah, I heard that. Are you okay, Bernice?
[00:12:34] Bernice Pogue: No! (crying) No!
[00:12:39] John Q: Springfield Police tell the homeless, Get out of our town, during a live interview for KEPW, as Bernice Pogue speaks with Jana Thrift and Julie Lambert.