Michael Stoops, director of community organizing for the National Coalition for the Homeless, died May 1, 2017, from stroke related issues at age 67.
Thirty years ago, Mr. Stoops was a major player in Portland, Oregon's social services community. He was the founder of Baloney Joe's, an agency that gave relief to homeless men, women and street youth. He also headed the Burnside Community Council ( BCC ), which was a coalition of many homeless service agencies and projects.
In 1987 Mr. Stoops managed to galvanize support for Congressional legislation that brought millions of dollars to Portland homeless over decades. He was viewed as a hero and advocate by those who society relegated to the streets and underneath bridges.
Mr. Stoops wore many hats during his time in Portland, including the executive director of the local chapter of the Guardian Angels. In this role Stoops became confrontative and controversial. At one point he threw a brick through the window of a local business that had given him bad press.
In 1987 Wilamette Week, a local so-called investigative weekly, broke a huge story about Mr. Stoops, and claimed he had patterns of sex with homeless boys under 18 - the same ones who came to him for help to get off the streets. The WW story included evidence from Stoops medical records and among other credible sources. An independent investigation confirmed the WW story. Stoops resigned immediately from all his positions in Portland, and soon left the city for Washington D.C. shortly after that.
I first met Michael Stoops in October of 1982, when I volunteered at Metro Crisis Center - a public health hotline agency. He talked to us about homeless and mental health issues during a training session. He invited a few of us to take his "Urban Plunge" for three days. What this entailed was living on the streets of Portland as a homeless person. The only possessions we were allowed was the clothes on our back, plus no shoe laces and only a quarter in our pocket.
We had to sleep at Portland Rescue Mission and take our meals at Blanchette House. We were partnered with a buddy for safety reasons and told that if things got too dicey, to report back to Baloney Joe's. My buddy and I survived the three days on Portland's streets, and gained much needed awareness about street life and being homeless.
Six months after my Urban Plunge experience, I volunteered one evening shift a week as a "ride along" on the "Chiers Van" - a service that picked up inebriated street people and transported them to Hooper Detox Center. (Mr. Stoops had suggested this for my on-going plunge into "the world of the lost and forgotten"). This was one of those life changing experiences for me, a real-life educational experience I will never forget.
In 1984, I had the privilege to work closely with Michael Stoops as a VISTA (volunteer-in-service-to-America) Outreach worker through Project L.U.C.K./Outside-In for one year. I sent many street youth through Mr. Stoops transitional program at Baloney Joe's for housing. I was one of Michael Stoops true believers, who would do anything for him and an ardent defender of his many causes.
When the 1987 WW report came out, I was working at Outside-In as a full-time paid staffer in their street youth program. The report of Michael's exploitation of street youth sent me into an emotional tailspin. I was completely shocked! The rumors that I heard up until this time I viewed as trash-talk from his detractors, and he had many of those at the time. I resigned from Outside-in shortly after this because of the awesome guilt I felt for sending all those youth his way. I was depressed and unemployed for a number of months after this.
When I heard of Michael's death today, all those feelings of remorse came rushing back at me like a herd of wild horses. I have no sympathy left for this man whatsoever and my feelings of total disgust for what he did are as fresh in my mind as they were then. Any good that he may have accomplished in the big picture of things is now lost to me.
This is unfortunate and sad because that period of my life - helping the disadvantaged - will be forever clouded in my memory because I sent troubled, unsuspecting street kids into this sexual predator's domain.
Reporting at 6:00 pm PT - The situation in downtown Portland is now officially out-of-control. Dave Killen, staff member of Oregonlive, has said "Police revoke the city permit and declared the Portland May Day march is no longer lawful as violence mars demonstration."
Oregonlive Update: 6:10 - More than 30 individuals were detained at 5th & Jefferson and have been taken away in police vans, after police in full riot gear rushed the crowd after refusing to disperse.
Multiple fires, as well as property damage, was accomplished by black-clothed individuals wearing face masks. Some of these were identified as Black Block protestors and ANTIFA.
That's all I have for now.
Ben Douglass - Reporting.
Reporting, analysis and editorial on breaking news and events in Portland, Oregon, from an independent perspective. PDX Reports is published on an irregular basis for the time being. We adhere to the highest level of traditional journalistic integrity, trust and ethics. We report the truth as far as it can be confirmed by fact-based evidence.