In late September of 2017 PacOut Green Team conducted a cleanup event at Cooper Gulch Park, which was sponsored by PETRUSHA LAW. During that event, PacOut Green Team co-founder and current president, Tim Haywood, found an abandoned illegal homeless camp about 10-15 ft. from the chain link fence that borders the skate park area. The camp contained a large number of syringes, many of which were without caps, among other trash that was strewn about the site, The site was thoroughly cleaned and the syringes were gathered into sharps containers and other containers, until more sharps containers could be acquired. As usual, many pictures were taken, along with a short video clip, to be shared with the public via the “Post Cleanup Report”, which is published on the PacOut Green Team website, then shared to social media. A few of the photos and the short video clip were also shared to Instagram and in a separate post that was shared around social media, namely Facebook. The photos and video clip of the large amount of syringes, garnered a lot of attention from concerned local citizens and public officials who represent the community.
As a result, a lot of attention was focused on one of the organizations that offers a “needle exchange” program in the area, Humboldt Area Center For Harm Reduction (HACHR). As a result of the unwanted attention HACHR has recently made some statements that accuse PacOut Green Team of staging a scene in front of the skate park area at Coopers Gulch Park with the large amount of syringes laid out in the open, all for dramatic effect. None of the needles were in sharps containers when we found them. Lots of the needles did not have caps on them. We had to transport the needles to our PacOut Green Team trailer, to properly dispose of them in the sharps containers. HACHR also claimed that we rounded up syringes and sharps containers from other camps for these pictures. That is absolutely NOT TRUE.
Here is a quote taken from HACHR’s 2 YR Report:
“They went into locations where camps had been the night before and pulled out Containers and syringes, both old and new, took them over by the skate park and took pictures of them. These photos were shared widely across social media.”
Some FACTS about PacOut Green Team and their standard policies and procedures which may help to clarify how the incident in question was handled:
1) At least 90% of the syringes featured in the photograph in question were indeed found in an abandoned camp located just a few feet away from the skate park, but on the other side of the skate park from where the photo was taken. PacOut Green Team’s policy is to never disturb an active homeless camp, whether occupied at the time we are present or not. If it looks like someone is actively living there we leave it alone, therefore any syringes recovered at our cleanups come from abandoned camps or from areas where syringes are discarded along roadsides, trails, beaches, parks or from other places where the public recreates.
2) PacOut Green Team works to recover ALL trash at their scheduled events. All trash is separated at the end of the event so that any bio-hazards, recycling, etc. gets put in proper containers, to be properly disposed of later. All common trash is staged in a central location to be picked up by the city or county, depending on the location of the event, or is transported to HWMA by a PacOut Green Team representative. At some events, where large amounts of trash are expected to be recovered, a dumpster may be provided by the city or county, depending on location.
3) PacOut Green Team does stage trash in a central location at each cleanup event, near the PacOut Green Team trailer, so that it can be photographed with the group of volunteers and event sponsors responsible for gathering the trash. These photos are then featured in the “Post Cleanup Report”, a summary of each cleanup event conducted by PacOut Green Team. The report is published on the PacOut Green Team website and shared to social media such as Facebook. The photos and any video clips of the events are also shared via Instagram.
4) PacOut Green Team DOES NOT alter facts or provide false information about any cleanup event that is conducted by PacOut Green Team, or produce phony or misleading photographs which may lead viewers to believe anything other than the true facts concerning the event or photos and/or video being featured. This has been standard procedure since the founding of PacOut Green Team over 4 years ago.
5) PacOut Green Team DOES NOT name HACHR as being solely responsible for the syringes in the photo in question.
6) PacOut Green Team does try to educate and engage the public, as well as raise awareness, about litter, illegal dumping, and the dangers of having used syringes lying around in public spaces.