Michael Glover speaks to his dog, Gidget, in a Native American dialect, so that no one else can control her. If someone comes near while he's asleep, Gidget barks.
"But she's not just my watchdog," he says. "She's my friend." Glover has been homeless in Portland since January 18, and like most people on the streets here he has a few stories to tell. He served in the Army for 10 years and made sergeant, has been shot three times, has a replacement knee, and is "missing about four-and-a-half feet of intestines" thanks to the bullets. After the Army he drove trucks for a living for two years, out of Montana.
"But unbeknownst to me my dispatcher was diddling my wife for eight months while I was on the road," he says.
When Glover came home to find the two of them in bed, he says he thought a stranger was raping his wife, so he grabbed the dispatcher by his scrotum and his throat and "tossed him out the window." Glover spent two years in jail for attempted manslaughter before an appeals court overturned the conviction, he says. After receiving a pardon and having the charge expunged from his record, Glover returned home to find his wife had divorced him, sold their property, and was nowhere to be found.
"We had 13 years of marriage, $78,000 in the bank, 10 acres, a two-story house, a Harley-Davidson, and a Ford truck," he says. Now he's in Portland with only a 75-pound backpack, and Gidget to keep him company.
Last Thursday night, April 10, Glover was asleep under the Burnside Bridge with Gidget, who was watching over him and four friends near Naito Parkway. Some distance away, over by the MAX tracks, there had been a series of fights over the course of the evening. Glover and his friends kept their distance. When another fight broke out just after 1 am, Glover says four cop cars showed up.
"The kids who were fighting took off running, and the police didn't even chase them," Glover says. "Instead the woman police officer shouted that the Burnside Bridge was now closed to all us fucking bums, and that she wanted all of us fuckers to get up and out of there now."
Four cops walked the length of the bridge to the river, rousting people, says Glover, who says he saw two cops kick four people awake. The cops say they responded to a fight call but deny using force to roust any homeless.
The next night, the Mercury watched as a cop car drove under the bridge at 10:30 pm. One woman yelled at the officers driving past to "leave us to sleep."
"That's all we need," said Glover, who predicted the cops would be back in 10 minutes. Ten minutes later, two more officers came by in another squad car, and told everyone to wake up and leave. Glover said he didn't recognize these officers from the previous evening.
"We're homeless, where are we going to sleep?" Glover asked.
"I'll tell you where you can't sleep," responded one of the officers, listing the Morrison, Burnside, and Steel Bridges.
Cops are supposed to give homeless people 24-hours notice before evicting them under the city's camping ordinance.
"They've had plenty of warning," the cops told the Mercury, when this reporter asked why they were moving people along without first posting a warning. "We don't like doing this, you know."
When he first arrived in Portland, Glover slept under the Steel Bridge with walking pneumonia. He says he woke up one morning to find a cop had put Nyquil, orange juice, some dog food, and some aspirin down by his sleeping bag, for which he was grateful.
"So I'm not bashing all officers," he says. "Only the ones who did that violence to people and who use these Gestapo tactics. I'm a man of law and order—but this stinks."