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Mocking the Afflicted

MySpace User Posts Homeless Pics

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A resident of the neighborhood near NE 14th and Schuyler has been derided by advocates for Portland's homeless and recovery population for posting photos of passed-out transients on a MySpace page called "Homeless on 14th."

The page—which went up last week and was linked to a Craigslist entry entitled "Live in inner NE? Hate all the Homeless People?"—is the work of Ron, a 20-year-old unpaid baker's apprentice who recently moved to inner Northeast from Hillsboro.When contacted by the Mercury last week, Ron asked that his last name not be used. "On Schuyler Street in NE Portland there is a group of homeless people that traverse the street," Ron posted on his page. "And they are loud and obnoxious as shit. These people simply don't give a shit. So FUCK 'EM!"

Ron's photos, which show him taking one man's shoes and tying knots between the laces, have kicked up an online storm on the Mercury's Blog Town, PDX—mainly for being disrespectful of the people photographed and for invading their privacy. MySpace administrators have pulled the page once already, but its author stands by his actions and has reposted, saying he'll only remove the page when "the problem goes away."

"I don't have a problem with homeless people in general," he told the Mercury. "It just seems to be on this street. I see where the critics are coming from, but the people I'm taking pictures of have been invading the neighborhood."

Those working on behalf of Portland's homeless and recovery communities are unimpressed.

"It's sick and juvenile," says Richard Harris, executive director of Portland's homeless charity Central City Concern. "Homeless people aren't homeless by choice—they're reacting to circumstances like health problems or unemployment. People feel free to say what they like under the banner of free speech, but that doesn't mean I have to pay attention."

"It's one thing to speak out against people with addiction problems in your area," says Gary Cobb of Portland's Recovery Association Project. "But it's another to take advantage of them. This is mean-spirited."

Ron's post has also riled the management of the building he lives in. "It's sad and cruel when these people are considered appropriate material for comedy," said the building's general manager. "They have to sleep somewhere, and most of us are only a paycheck away from similar circumstances."

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