Large homeless camp in Portland blamed for recent assaults on local residents

Pedestrians who pass near a longtime homeless camp in Portland, Oregon, are being threatened or even assaulted by those who live in the camp, according to local news reports. 

The encampment — which is nicknamed “The Pit” — lies underneath the Steele Bridge in the city’s Old Town neighborhood and local officials have recorded more than 100 complaints connected to the tent city in the past two years, reports NBC affiliate KGW.

Some victims have been physically assaulted.

“They started punching me and telling me that people like me weren’t welcome here and if they saw me here again, they would make me sorry,” a transgender woman who recently moved to Portland told the station.

“I ended up with a fractured eye socket, a broken nose, [and] a couple of broken ribs. I was bleeding everywhere and when they were done, they threw me off the bank there about 10 feet,” the woman continued.

Aaliyah Mays, another local resident who uses the city’s MAX light rail train nearby, said that a man from the camp threatened her with a large hunting knife.

“I’ve never been that scared in my life,” Ms. Mays told the station.

Portland has banned camping in city parks or within 250 feet of a school, childcare center or city-operated homeless shelter.

The city also had a daytime ban on camping go into effect earlier this month, but Fox News reported that police have been reluctant to enforce the rule.

An unidentified ex-con who recently served time for stabbing another man told the network that he would respond violently if Portland tried to crack down on camping.

“What I think would be cool is if we stood up and stood as one, make sure that they don’t make us take down our tents or whatever,” said the ex-con. “If they want violence, then give ’em violence back.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler in March revealed the first location for a city-run camping site.

The site is expected to hold up to 150 homeless people in 100 tents. It’s one of six sites the city plans to open up.

Portland’s ban on all street camping will go into effect next year, in hopes that the designated homeless sites will contain the city’s nearly 1,900 inhabitants who are living on the streets.

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