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Protesters arrested at Gresham City Hall appear in court

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JODI WEINBERGER - The seven protesters arrested during yesterday's council meeting - Melanie Rosenthal, Steve Kimes, Saint Hood (not his real name), Anastasia Moseley, father and son Chris and Dax Cozzetto, and Jeff Singer, were given court dates in April at the Justice Center in Downtown Portland today.The seven protesters arrested during Tuesday’s council meeting say being removed from Gresham Council chambers in handcuffs will not deter their advocacy to get services for the homeless.

All seven — Melanie Rosenthal, Steve Kimes, Saint Hood (not his real name), Anastasia Moseley, father and son Chris and Dax Cozzetto, and Jeff Singer — appeared at the Justice Center in downtown Portland on Wednesday, March 16, to enter not-guilty pleas and get court dates.

Kimes is a pastor and director of Anawim Christian Community, a day shelter and church for the homeless commonly known as Red Barn. Cozzetto is a member of the Powell Valley Green Collective, an anarchist group that organized the protest.

Anger and frustration erupted at the Tuesday, March 15, council meeting over an item on the consent agenda which made small amendments to the city code that allowed the city manager to close a 60-acre tract along the Springwater Trail known as Gresham Woods. City officials say Gresham Woods was closed because the homeless population camping in the woods has destroyed new plantings and the water quality in Johnson Creek.

The protesters hope was to stop or delay the vote, but following the arrests it was unanimously pushed through by the city councilors.

Contrary to what Gresham police and city councilors said, Kimes and the others said they did not set out to get arrested when they planned the protest.

“We knew that was a possibility,” said Kimes, standing outside the Justice Center in Portland. “It would have been great if they had taken a different route.”

While city leaders said they had tried to meet with both Kimes and Cozzetto prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Kimes said he wasn’t able to make the time slot they had proposed and Cozzetto said he was never contacted at all.

Cozzetto said there was speculation that they might be arrested, but he was still “very shocked.”

It was first-time arrests for Kimes and Chris and Dax Cozzetto.

“All this does is inspire us to go further,” Cozzetto said. “I’m not sure how often you can get arrested for doing the right thing.”

While they were surpised about the arrests, Kimes joked that the acoustics in the Gresham jail cell were “great” and that the seven protesters spent most of their eight-or-so hours being held singing David Bowie songs.

“What’s important to me is that it gets out there that people need help,” Cozzetto said.