A city worker (center) speaks to a man, who gave his name as Peter, standing on balcony atop his makeshift home along the Fore River Parkway Trail in Portland on Sept. 6. Peter said it took him six months to build it. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

The Portland City Council has scheduled a workshop to discuss policies for encampments in the city on September 26, but if you want to speak on the topic, you will have to attend in person.

The city had previously held meetings with remote participation, but recent meetings have been hijacked by participants on Zoom, who have used the anonymous public platform to make antisemitic, racist and homophobic comments.

Other municipalities, including Bangor, Hallowell and Rockland have had similar “Zoom bombing” incidents recently. The surge in hate-speech coming from remote participants has been connected to national extremist groups.

Tuesday’s meeting will start at 5 p.m. and be held in the City Council Chambers. It will be live-streamed on the city’s website for viewing only. There will be no remote participation via Zoom.

The council will discuss proposals including temporarily increasing capacity at the city’s homeless services shelter, from 208 beds to 350 beds, and offering shelter and related services to people living at encampments this winter.

Portland residents may email written comments to publiccomment@portlandmaine.gov before noon Monday.


Ethan Andrews is the night editor. He was formerly the managing editor at The Free Press and worked as a reporter for The Republican Journal and Pen Bay Pilot.