A 7-Eleven in Portland is using high-pitched buzzing to keep homeless people away from the store

  • A 7-Eleven in Portland, Oregon, received a noise violation after blasting a high-pitched buzzing noise from its speakers.
  • Manager Madhur Sharma said the store played the noise to deter homeless people from sleeping overnight.
  • Homeless advocates called the move dehumanising and suggested it could make “life harder for people on the margins.”

A 7-Eleven in Portland, Oregon, is trying to rid its store of homeless people by blasting high-pitched buzzing from speakers.

Portland noise control officer Paul van Orden told KGW8 that the city has received multiple complaints about the noise, which he said was played twice as loud as city’s legal limit.

It’s unclear when the store owners started playing the noise, but manager Madhur Sharma said they recently switched from playing classical music to the high-pitched buzzing.

He told KGW8 they opted to play to noise to deter homeless people from sleeping overnight, and claimed that the corner faced problems with crime and drug use.

But homeless advocates in Portland said the noise is dehumanising and aggressive.

“Is this the kind of society we want to be? The kind of society that tries to make life harder for people on the margins?” Kaia Sand, executive director of Street Roots, told KGW8.

“If people are struggling with their mental health, if they have experience trauma, then sounds are that much more difficult to handle,” she added. “So, this is about pushing them that much further into struggle.”

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Van Orden said the 7-Eleven was issued a noise complaint on Friday, and the high-pitched buzzing was turned off. It’s unclear if it will return.

He said he had heard noises similar in the past, usually used to scare away raccoons or other animals.

“There’s really no need to get into an argument of what their intent was. It’s just something that, analysing it, it’s not acceptable,” he said.

The property’s owner, Standard Insurance, told KOIN that safety is its “top priority.”

The company said that there is a “persistent threat posed by public drug use, menacing behaviour and other criminal activity” outside the store.

“This ongoing issue concerns a small group of individuals well known to law enforcement who have created a regular health and safety threat at and around this street corner. We have temporarily turned off the sound but will continue to address the criminal behaviour that occurs daily at this location,” the statement said.

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