Idaho CopBlocker Matthew Townsend is on the scene in Boise providing regular updates regarding the homeless camp at Cooper Court. According to the Idaho Statesman:
Boise Mayor David Bieter and Police Chief Bill Bones will hold a 10 a.m. press conference at the Fort Boise Community Center, 700 Robbins Road, about the Cooper Court homeless camp.
That announcement came Friday morning as protesters gathered near the camp and near a section of River Street the city has blocked off as it appears to begin steps to clear out the camp.
Bieter and Bones “will outline city plans for addressing the increasingly unhealthy and unsafe conditions for the approximately 135 people currently living outdoors in the Cooper Court area,” Friday’s announcement states.
People seemed sad but, for the most part, accepting Thursday night when Lisa Veaudry stood in front of a small crowd to tell them they’d be removed from Cooper Court, the homeless camp between Americana Boulevard, River Street and the Connector, on Friday morning.
“I don’t want you to be afraid when you see lots of people,” said Veaudry, who’s listed as the interim operations coordinator and education director for Corpus Christi, a day shelter next to Cooper Court. “There are going to be lots of people.”
Those people will include police and providers of services such as mental health and substance abuse counseling, Veaudry said. The officials she spoke to about Friday’s operation said police would not conduct a warrant check on the dozens of people living in Cooper Court, many of whom have outstanding warrants stemming from tickets for minor offenses such as camping or urinating in public, Veaudry said.
“This is tragic on 1,000 levels,” she said. “If I had a magic wand I would fix it.”
While the newspaper sugar coats the actions unfolding in Boise Matthew has described a different tale. He’s reported that police have blocked off all streets around the encampment with barricades and personnel. Large tents are being set up and a huge presence of police officers are in the area (some of which are not local).
As noted in the video above, a press conference was scheduled for 10 am which is also the time given to the encampment yesterday as the eviction tim. As a person off camera noted, “they did it to get the media out of here” is a common practice of police. The media quoted Lisa Veaudry who statement’s indicate that “there are going to be lots of people” when the roundup happens but not to be afraid that most were there to help. She promised that the police won’t be running people for warrants – as many of the camp’s residents have outstanding court cases – and that substance abuse counselors will be on hand to help those in need.
As much as I want this to be the case there are several issues worth addressing here. First, if people wanted to help relocate the camp then why not just find a shelter or private property willing to take on the encampment. Inform those camping out that if they move to the new location they will not be bothered. If there are substance abuse programs available as well then great, folks can take up that opportunity too.
Second, the manner in which the state goes about ‘helping’ such people is an intrusive one. These people will have their property search and/or seized while being helped. Though they claim they won’t be ran for outstanding crimes, it doesn’t mention what will happen to those who have illegal items (drugs, knives or so forth). It doesn’t touch on the dumpsters being set up to throw away people’s property.
Lastly, the camp is on public property. The problem with public property is that we all should technically have access or use of it but can’t all agree on what that use is. The current occupants want to live on this land and others want it to be something else. Neither is wrong but the problems stems from the public nature of the property and not homeless people.
Therefore, if we really want to end these issues we need to end public property, public services and replace them with voluntary interactions over collective ones. And before everyone jumps down my throat about all the lost public services we’d have, know that parks would still exists, water would still be piped into homes and roads would still be built. I’ll spare you from the argument because it’s so foreign to most of you that I won’t waste my time. If we did this not only would we get better services ourselves but we’d also have a more effective way at helping those who want it, or leaving those alone who don’t.
But that’s a topic for another day. Today we hope that the Boise police will conduct themselves in a proper manner though at the end of the day you can’t sugarcoat forcefully corralling people, trashing their private property and forcing them into programs or shelters of your choosing.
Below are some of the additional videos Matthew has been sending in from the eviction. I’ll be in contact with him throughout the day and will update this post accordingly.