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From Aaron Scott, Diocesan Missioner for Anti-Poverty Organizing and Organizer with Chaplains on the Harbor:

The City of Aberdeen carried out its final eviction and demolition of the Chehalis River encampment this week. Chaplains on the Harbor clergy stood with camp residents: to witness with them as they watched their small homes get bulldozed, to assist folks with relocating, and to offer pastoral support in the wake of this forcible displacement.

Aaron, a resident of the River Camp, sits atop his demolished cabin which was razed while all his belongings were still inside.

Many long-time camp residents had hoped to exercise their first amendment rights through one last organized protest of the eviction. In the end however, watching the demolition of their homesteads (some with all their possessions still inside) was simply too traumatic and demoralizing. So we shifted to survival pastoring. Aaron Scott, COH organizer, preached on this through the lens of Amos last Sunday.

The new city-hosted mitigation site reached full capacity well before most River Camp residents relocated, and there continue to be ongoing human rights issues at the site regarding access to food and potable water. Meanwhile, COH has received word that those displaced to downtown sidewalks are now being ticketed for violating local ordinances. Many River Camp residents were likewise displaced into residential areas where anti-homeless hostilities are even higher and code enforcement is doubling down on citations. Suffice to say, our current legal case is ongoing but on-the-ground survival needs wildly outpace the speed of federal court decisions. What we do know is that our years of organizing up to this point helped to ensure that City of Aberdeen finally began taking its first steps to address the local crisis of homelessness, and that Chief Shumate of the Aberdeen Police Department worked hard to ensure this eviction happened without any arrests and with as much deescalation as possible– a rare occurrence in most sweeps. We are grateful to have made progress on both these counts.

The Rev. Sarah Monroe with longtime camp residents, gathered around one of the camp’s memorials before it was blessed, dismantled, and transported 20 miles away to Chaplains on the Harbor’s sanctuary in Westport.

In the midst of much suffering we work hard to anchor this ministry in tangible hope. Our staff meetings are increasingly full of young children, with more expected soon (praise God for family reunification!). Our team at Harbor Roots Farm is carrying out a second successful season of supportive employment, thriving crops, and happy customers. We are starting to dream together about what it would take to build the infrastructure necessary for wholistic addiction recovery in county where it’s badly needed.  None of this would be possible without your support, and we are deeply grateful to all who have given so generously to our vision. If you would like to make a donation to Chaplains on the Harbor, click here.

Please keep our whole congregation in your prayers.

With gratitude and blessings,
Chaplains on the Harbor

Final Sweep Update from Aberdeen

3 thoughts on “Final Sweep Update from Aberdeen

  • July 26, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    My son is in Orange county California and he is homeless. He is not on drugs or booze. He just ran into hard times and couldn’t find a job. He always keeps himself clean and well dressed. People treat the homeless TERRIBLE!!!! There are mitigating circumstances that cause this problem. Some have mental illness and/or substance problems, but we ALL need to realize that we are all one tragedy away from the very same thing. Housing is very expensive and not all homeless are bad. Please continue to help these folks and help them get healthy and placed in a safe place. Many need services and some like being homeless, but there are those that actually WANT A HAND UP NOT A HAND OUT. Wake up folks!! Have some compassion for your fellow man. Btw,my son now has a job and a place to live.

    • July 29, 2019 at 11:45 am

      Hi Sherrie,

      I’ve passed your message along to Aaron Scott over at Chaplains on the Harbor, and he should get back to you soon.



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