'Occupy' camps provide food, shelter for homeless

October 25, 2011 - 12:45 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Occupy Wall Street protesters from Portland, Ore. to Atlanta are trying to distinguish between homeless people who are joining their movement and those who are there for the amenities.

Protest organizers and homeless advocates say their involvement has shined a light on an often-overlooked segment of the population. They see the possibility to show that the homeless are not hopeless and that they can become a functional part of society.

But the presence of homeless people at protest events also has been behind several incidents in Portland, some of them violent.

As protesters across the country try to coalescence around an agenda in the coming weeks and months, they are dealing with many of the same problems that local governments have struggled with for decades to solve.