Los Angeles, California, authorities have closed a city park to remove an existing homeless camp there, according to information released by The Independent.
Hundreds of people have made their home in Echo Park Lake, which has left city leaders in a dilemma: More residents demand clean and safe streets as the number of homeless increases.
According to the UK website, Democratic Councilor Mitch O’Farrell, who on Thursday (25) confirmed the temporary closure of the park for vehicles and pedestrians, said there were four deaths at the site last year .
“Echo Park establishment has become a very dangerous place for everyone out there: drug overdoses, sexual and physical assault, self-proclaimed leaders taxing homeless people and vendors, animal abuse, homeless families in the weather. cold and shootings last fall. [no hemisfério Norte, primavera no Brasil], where a homeless man was shot in the leg by gang members while there were children, ”the city councilor said in a statement, according to an independent publication.
The park ban, however, created confusion. On Wednesday (24), fences around the area began to be put up so that the camp could be dismantled and signs that the closure would begin this Thursday and that all personal items should be removed from the area, “including , but not limited to, limited to tents, chairs, tables, backpacks, bags and personal items and items ”.
The move led hundreds of protesters, including homeless people and activists, to demonstrate. There was a confrontation with the police overnight, according to the UK website. Photos and videos show officers trying to push protesters as bottles were thrown at security forces.
At one point, according to the Independent, several police officers arrived at the park with riot gear to contain the protest and were received with screams. “Why are you using riot gear? I don’t see a riot here!
Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore said homeless people already at the camp could stay overnight, but would be forced to leave within 24 hours.
Some protesters saw the statement as a victory, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We won the evening,” shouted an organizer. “I live here and consider today’s news a victory,” added a local.
At 1:25 am this Thursday, the act had been dispersed. In a statement, Los Angeles Police said the protest was “largely peaceful” and tear gas was not used to disperse the act. A protester was arrested for failing to comply with the orders of a police officer, the statement added, according to the British website.
“After having expressed his rights relating to the First Amendment [da Constituição americana], all the demonstrators left the area voluntarily, ”police said.
Activists criticized city leaders for removing the camp without giving enough notice so people could find another place to sleep. Mayor Eric Garcetti (Democrat) said on Wednesday that although there were around 120 tents in the park, there were only around 19 people living in the camp when the site was closed.
Authorities also reported that there was an estimated loss of US $ 500,000 (2.8 million reais) in the park due to the camp. There is still no date for the reopening to the public. According to a statement from O’Farrell, it depends on a damage assessment and the completion of any necessary repairs before an authorization can be issued.