Since the day labor site on MLK opened three weeks ago, one lonely protester has been out there with a sign reading "No." and occasionally trying to get arrested so some controversy could be stirred up at the site. Yesterday it seemed like he got his wish: the Portland Tribune ran an article with the lead, "The city's day labor hiring site, which opened three weeks ago, saw its first altercation Monday morning between a day laborer and a lone protester." While the protester sat outside the site's fence like usual, snapping photos, someone grabbed his camera and threw it to the ground. The camera broke and the camera-thrower ran off.

This was bad news for VOZ, the group that runs the day labor site, since a big goal of the project is to improve the reputation and image of day laborers in the community. The article about the assault opened up a thread of vicious (and slightly illiterate) comments:

And so it begins,and did'nt even take a long time for assualts on legal citizens by those who are probably here illegaly.Stay tuned Portland,I'm sure there's more to come.

and

How soon can I go down there to hire a hooker?

There's a hitch in the story, though. VOZ organizers who run the site told me this morning that the guy who assaulted the protester was not a day laborer, but an apparently homeless guy who comes to the site to steal coffee. VOZ director Ignacio Paramo said the disheveled man hangs around, drinking the site's complimentary coffee, never signing up for work and being rude to the organizers who ask him to leave. Yesterday, as he was wandering off the site, he apparently thought the protester was taking his photo and flipped out. The allegedly homeless guy didn't come back today and Paramo hopes he'll stay away from the site's protester -- and its coffee.