The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) moved to clear out a homeless encampment in Echo Park on Wednesday and Thursday. A notice was posted on Wednesday, March 24, warning homeless residents in the park to clear the area of “tents, chairs, tables, backpacks, bags, and personal items.” The homeless residents of the area were offered “transitional housing and shelter, as well as COVID-19 vaccines” as well.
This is the latest action in the assessment of the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. Currently, there are 66,436 people in Los Angeles County experiencing homelessness. The city itself has a homeless population of 41,920 individuals.
Wednesday night, the LAPD began to construct temporary fencing around the park. This immediately received pushback from activists and members of the homeless encampment. The protestors “threw bottles and objects at officers, who attempted to push them back from the park.”
Matters came to head on Thursday night as community outrage built, leading to a clash of protestors and LAPD officers. After 8 P.M, the LAPD declared an unlawful assembly and moved to clear the area. The protestors pushed back, with some using flashing lights “in an attempt to blind officers and prevent them from performing their duties.” Furthermore, “efforts to isolate and remove those individuals were met with hostility and physical resistance from the larger crowd.” However, once arrests started being made, there was little resistance. In the end, there were 182 arrests made.
The actions of the LAPD sparked backlash on social media, with people pointing out that the spending on overtime and riot officers could have been used to provide for the homeless that were in the park, while others pointed out that the homeless were offered transitional housing. Echo Park remains temporarily closed until further notice.