Greenway homicide under investigation amidst City of Medford discussions to prohibit city camping

MEDFORD, Ore.– On February 26th, police say a 17 year old shot and killed a man on the bear creek greenway. Exactly one month later, a dead body was found in the same area.

Medford Chief of Police Scott Clauson says this is highly unusual in his city.

“It’s not common to have this type of criminal activity on the greenway”

Chief Clauson says an autopsy is scheduled for the body found Friday. That will tell police a lot more about the identity of the victim, and cause of death. The teen charged with murder in the February shooting is behind bars. As rare as this sort of violent crime is to Medford, chief Clauson says crime has been rising on the greenway for the past 5 years

“Its almost a three fold increase in calls for service along the greenway.”

That’s why earlier this year the city announced it was looking into limiting camping in city parks. Chief Clauson says doing that could bring about several pros and cons.

“It may push the issue to the downtown partially, but its also going to push people into services.”

But he says it could bring positives to those living along the largest public park in Jackson County.

“As a police chief, I don’t think that folks remaining on the greenway is a healthy sustainable option. There’s great things happening in our community that are much more sustainable, don’t cause environmental damage.”

The City of Medford’s discussion is not coming without controversy. Some locals are against the possibility of moving people off the greenway, saying it would not only violate their human rights, but their constitutional rights. SO-Equity director of community outreach Emily Mann says crimes along the greenway are not exclusive to the homeless community.

“We’re criminalizing a community that already has a lot of stigmas associated with their existence. Its putting a lot of stress on people who are already in an incredibly stressful situation.”

She says government inflicting fear on the homeless is not the answer regardless of where a couple recent crimes took place.

“Its our stance that criminalizing poverty and criminalizing survival is going to do nothing but exacerbate the problem.”

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