52 cops, some in riot gear, stormed a homeless encampment in front of city hall just after midnight, in an attempt to break up the four week long occupation. The encampment started on December 8, 2015 and held for 25 days. The protesters included people who are currently homeless and community activists who were intentionally breaking the anti camping ordinance in an attempt to draw attention to the unjust laws claiming they discriminate soley against the homeless community.
The Department of Justice is inclined to agree with them. After seven people sued in Boise, ID after being arrested for sleeping in public. Sleeping is an activity that is necessary for life and must occur at sometime. If a city makes it a crime to sleep in public when there is inadequate space or shelter, it unconstitutionally punishes them for being homeless.
On the second day of the encampment police officers showed up and seized a portable toilet, as well as, towing a truck that was loaded with cold weather gear for the homeless. Obviously the police were being passive aggressive. They knew that the more uncomfortable the living conditions the the higher the chances of everyone leaving without a conflict. Not an ounce of compassion was shown for the people surviving in near freezing temperatures and an almost constant exposure to the elements.
On the night of the raid the cops surrounded the encampment, that was made up of 20 individuals, and started citing and arresting people for violating the anti camping ordinance. Seven were detained and of those seven, four were arrested. Lots of personal property and camping items, such as tents, were confiscated by police. The charges included camping in public and resisting arrest.
James Clark and David Andre were among those arrested. Clark was released from jail at around 3pm Saturday. The cops who arrested Andre got physical with him and went as far as to throw him to the ground. During the eviction City hall lobby became a staging area and mini jail. Multiple people left and a few of the homeless people voluntarily went to shelters or warming centers.
Twelve people remained this morning after the arrests and they plan on staying until some of these laws are repealed by the city council; specifically the anti camping ordinances.
The organizers of this action have been operating for months as the Community Dinner Project. Feeding groups of homeless people as large as 150. I have had the privilege of participating in some of these feedings and the charitable event was harassed by police, who forcibly moved the serving tables off of city hall property.
After the feeding was completed, community members, activists and members of the homeless community went into a scheduled city hall meeting. Just before the homeless topic was about to be addressed, Mayor Kevin Johnson abandoned the meeting along with multiple other city council members. This is made everyone who came to address an issue with the mayor angry and some started shouting; three people were arrested.
Hopefully the Community Dinner Project will find success in their battle to overturn camping laws that indeed target the homeless population almost exclusively. Regardless the selflessness displayed by everyone involved is an example at what can be accomplished when people voluntarily come together in order to achieve a common goal.
It takes allot of effort and money to make these feedings possible. If you would like to contribute to the Community Dinner Project check out their gofundme project. Even a few dollars goes along way. They have already achieved half of their goal and you can help them accomplish it.