The City’s Public Works Department swept a tent camp on the southwest corner of Independence and Paseo on the site of the Royale Inn on Friday afternoon. After repeated warnings and a multitude of opportunities offered by a number of assistance agencies earlier this week to offer services, the people occupying a homeless encampment on public property were moved from the property.
Numerous citizen complaints had been made in regards to criminal activity at the camp over the last month or so. Additionally, neighboring businesses and community organizations had expressed concern for the safety of their customers and employees.
Almost as if on cue, as we walked past a tent to speak with one of the people displaced, a man inside the tent screamed at us to “get away from the (expletive deleted) tent. As the female cam occupant approached us and tried to converse with us, the man quickly exited the tent with a machete in each hand and aggressively walked toward us and muttering intelligibly. The female person we were going to speak with turned and addressed the individual who stopped in their tracks but still maintained an intense stare with us as we slowly backed away from the situation.
This comes on the heels of last night’s machete fight at Windsor Avenue and Gladstone Blvd. between two homeless men. The victim in that conflict was transported to an area hospital with non life threatening injuries. The suspect still remains at large.
A Public Works employee on the scene indicated that on Tuesday of this week, roughly 18 homeless assistance agencies were on the scene at the camp offering services to those individuals who desired to get off the street. Warnings were also given of the impending camp sweep. While a number of people decided to leave the camp and go elsewhere, a majority stayed until the bitter end.
Some of those displaced simply picked up their belongings and tents and moved to a public sidewalk on Admiral Boulevard next to Hope Faith ministries.
A Hope Faith Caseworker named Gabe defended the illegal encampment blocking the public sidewalk and deferred blame to the city for not enforcing the law. We attempted to reach out to Hope Faith but the voicemail box we were directed to was full and did not allow us to leave a message.
“These are not criminals, they need someplace to stay,” he said. “They’re going where they can find a spot.”
We asked Public Works officials on the scene about the Admiral Boulevard camp which blocks a public sidewalk and the Belvedere Park camp. They deferred to the Parks Department who has recently begun placing new signage along boulevards and an area parks citing park hours and the city ordinance that prohibits camping on public properties.
No word on when the Belvidere Park camp and the Admiral Boulevard sidewalk Camp would be addressed