Marnie Whiting said she was just getting off work at a laundromat near the Klamath Falls Fred Meyer, when a homeless man ran into her business and told her to call 9-1-1.
She said she could tell immediately that something was wrong.
Whiting said, “I’m really disappointed in the tactics that they’ve used to get rid of a problem.”
She said they ruined most of the man’s belongings, where the homeless man, Steve was camping.
“He had shoes out there, they poured it in one shoe and not the other, all around his tent, all around the entrance,” Whiting said, “There was no possible way for him to even leave his tent without stepping in it.”
Whiting said the area is known as a gathering place for homeless people.
She thinks the fertilizer was a deliberate attempt to drive homeless people away from the property.
“I’ve had a lot, let’s say half a dozen Fred Meyer employees reach out to me since this and they’ve said ‘we have a grand reopening coming up on the 11th, Veteran’s Day. Everyone’s being pressured to clean up the area,” she said.
Whiting said she asked a Fred Meyer employee about replacing some of the items they ruined.
She said Fred Meyer agreed to give Steve a new tent.
“It pretty much dehumanized Steve,” Whiting said, “He was in the tent when they were doing it. I later found out that’s why he came running in to call 911.”
Since the incident, Whiting said Steve has received tons of support from the Klamath Falls community.
She said he got new sleeping bags, blankets, clothes and shoes.
Whiting said, “It’s like the community came together and gave him everything that Fred Meyer wasn’t willing to replace and they should have, because their employees ruined it.”
Whiting said she filed reports with Klamath Falls Police and the DEQ.
The DEQ said they were notified of the incident and they are continuing to monitor the need for outreach to Fred Meyer.
Fred Meyer sent a statement in response to the story: “Our store team spread organic fish fertilizer (no chemicals) that was no longer saleable around some failing vegetation on the store property. There was a claim by someone camping in the area that some of the organic fish fertilizer made contact with some of their possessions. The store has responded to try and help the individual based on the allegation.”