Hundreds of housed and unhoused residents got here collectively in Los Angeles on Wednesday to protest the deliberate clearing of a homeless neighborhood from Echo Park Lake.
On Wednesday night, a heavy police presence descended on the park, and protesters linked arms to dam them from the encampment. In the clashes, police arrested one woman. A person mentioned an officer broke his arm with a baton. (A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department instructed HuffPost that it’s “aware of the incident and looking into the matter.”)
Though the encampment was not cleared out Wednesday night time, police closed remaining residents in with fencing surrounding the park, solely permitting people out or escorting people in in the event that they have been eradicating belongings.
The tent neighborhood that grew over the previous 12 months in the course of the coronavirus pandemic usually had dozens of individuals residing there, and residents had organized a backyard, a pantry, showers and extra. Housed allies offered different help, akin to moveable batteries to cost telephones, mentioned Kelvin Martinez, a member of the homelessness solidarity group Street Watch LA.
Only a few dozen or so residents stay in tents on the web site. Many have been moved into transitional housing or shelters by the town, and others have chosen to go away to keep away from an anticipated legislation enforcement sweep, Martinez mentioned.
Now homeless residents and advocates are involved in regards to the metropolis’s deliberate clearing of the camp Thursday night time. A discover states that beginning at 10:30 p.m. Thursday, “all personal property,” together with tents and luggage, “will be removed.”
Activists had deliberate a peaceful vigil Thursday night exterior Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s workplace to protest the sweep. O’Farrell’s district consists of Echo Park.
“To Mitch O’Farrell, our demand is simply this; please continue to leave us alone, or stand with us,” the Echo Park homeless neighborhood wrote in an announcement earlier this week.
In the homeless neighborhood’s assertion, the Echo Park residents wrote that they’d had “nothing but each other this past year and it’s honestly been a relief.”
“Without the constant LAPD and city harassment uprooting our lives we’ve been able to grow. To come together as a community, not just unhoused but housed as well and work together for the mutual aid and benefit of each other,” the neighborhood members wrote, urging O’Farrell to “ignore us as if we didn’t exist, much like you’ve been doing… or come out and stand with us.”
O’Farrell mentioned greater than 160 individuals who resided within the Echo Park Lake encampment had been moved into shelters or hotel rooms below the state’s Project Roomkey program, meant to supply non-congregate settings to briefly home individuals in the course of the pandemic.
Fellow City Councilmember Nithya Raman denounced the sweep, saying that “while I’ve been happy to see so many people from the lake being housed over the last few days, a forced and sudden eviction is not the way to move forward now.”
O’Farrell didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
California has lengthy confronted an inexpensive housing disaster and has seen its charges of homelessness spike lately.
People experiencing homelessness are notably in danger in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, since residing in congregate settings like shelters or encampments could make it troublesome to socially distance. They even have extra obstacles to well being care and report increased charges of well being situations, akin to bronchial asthma and persistent bronchitis, inserting them at better danger for extreme instances of COVID-19.
And individuals of colour, who’re disproportionately hospitalized and dying from the coronavirus, are additionally disproportionately represented amongst California’s homeless.
Martinez famous that “hotels and shelters are not gonna work for everybody” who resides in tent encampments and that individuals shouldn’t be “coerced into shelters.” Some individuals choose to live in tent communities as a result of they could not really feel secure in shelters. The resort rooms even have curfews and different laws that may depart individuals “feeling infantilized,” as he put it.
“It’s not that they don’t want services; it’s that they want some recognition that the community space they’ve been cultivating is one that has a lot of support,” Martinez mentioned of the Echo Park tent neighborhood. “There’s a lot of stability people receive being in community, waking up next to neighbors who know your name.”
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