Q&A with Scott Rupp
Scott Rupp, 59, has lived on the streets of Sunnyside and thereabouts since 2019. He’s easy to spot because he’s always blaring Rock & Roll—especially Tool. His music inhabits every empty space and crevice; there’s no escape. Follow the noise and realize that Scott, like Rock & Roll, is here to stay.
How long have you lived in the Sunnyside area or back and forth between Sunnyside and Laurelhurst following the city’s constant sweeps?
Scott: About three years now. I’ve lived in Portland for 59 years.
How long have you been living on the streets?
Scott: 25 years.
What kind of music do you like?
Scott: I love Tool. I think Maynard should be president. [Maynard James Keenan is the lead vocalist of Tool, an alternative metal band from Los Angeles.]
What’s something good or one of the good things that happened while you’ve been out here?
Scott: (Laughter) Oh my God. What’s good? What’s good? These are hard questions.
What do you think about the guys who drive their cars slowly by and glare at us?
Scott: I think they’re misinformed. I think they want to see something for themselves. I think they have a shallow life; I think they have more of a shallow life than I have.
How many times have you been assaulted by housed people?
Scott: Well, the times I’ve been assaulted, I never asked them beforehand if they had a house or not. I don’t know if that has anything to do with it. I’ve been jumped by young men who were drunk at the time. There were four of them and I got hit in the head with a bottle four times. It messed my back up. Messed my train of thought up. I stutter now…now and then because of it.
You applied for Section 8 housing but that was denied.
Scott: I applied for Social Security, too, and I was denied. Because they always do that. They always deny you […] They’ll deny you. They deny you about three times and then give it to ya. Because hopefully, you’ll just quit applying.
Can you tell people how your wife, Debbie Ann Beaver, passed away?
Scott: She was in a car wreck when she was 18 years old and had severe head injuries as a result. She was taking seizure medication ever since she was 18 years old, up until the time she passed away. When we were living at Sunnyside Park three years ago, Rapid Response came through and took all…all…all of our belongings. And in her belongings was her medication. She had a grand mal seizure and went into a coma. Rapid Response was there again that day, because they come back again within 10 days to verify if you’ve moved back or not — back in your spot or not — which we had. And, ah, found her laying on the ground and wouldn’t allow anybody else to do anything…do anything for her. And they let her lay there and die. They wanted to fight with people, instead of help her.
I’m sure if I’d had the chance to meet her, if she was hanging out with you, she had to be cool.
Scott: She had to be cool because she was a person, man. She was a person. She was no animal. She didn’t deserve to die like that. Nobody deserves to die like that. On the side of the street… (In the background, the roar of some dumb engine, its muffler spitting cancer in the street close to us.) People all around her.
For his wife’s wrongful death, Rupp currently awaits negotiations from the City of Portland’s lawyers. In a July Willamette Week article (https://www.wweek.com/news/courts/2021/07/28/legal-notice-alleges-portland-city-contractors-swept-a-homeless-womans-medication-leading-to-her-death), Rupp’s attorney, Michael Fuller, said Beaver’s medication was to “treat symptoms from seizures due to a head injury, high blood pressure and diabetes.”