Protesters in Los Angeles attack LAPD officers trying to clear massive drug-ridden homeless encampment

LOS ANGELES, CA – A crowd of around 200 protesters blocked a squad of riot-gear-clad Los Angeles Police Department officers from removing a homeless encampment in Echo Park, which was an area once known for its scenic appearance.

According to a report from Breitbart News, city officials sent LAPD officers in riot gear to evacuate homeless people who had been occupying Echo Park. After residents shared complaints that the homeless camp was destroying the park’s beauty, the order from city officials was issued.

On March 24th, officials announced that the encampment would be closing and that residents who were occupying the area should remove all of their personal belongings from the encampment.

Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department infiltrated the homeless encampment in Echo Park wielding batons and rifles and sporting riot gear to evacuate the area. Around 200 protesters essentially stood in the way of authorities to thwart the clearing of the encampment.

The camp grew to nearly 200 tents and spread out over half of the park, which was once a generally scenic area. Drug usage, various crimes, and the ever-present amount of trash were among the grievances made by local residents.

The protesters were ordered to disperse by 10:30 p.m., as the demonstration was deemed to be an unlawful assembly. The demonstrators refused to leave the area and started to become combative with police, as one might expect in modern times.

A line of police was observed moving slowly along Glendale Boulevard at the edge of Echo Park Lake at one point during the altercation, urging demonstrators to leave. This instead fueled chants from the protesters, who reportedly started yelling:

“Whose park? Our park!”

With cadenced chants being a favorite among the protesting crowd, demonstrators reacted to the riot gear adorned by officers by chanting:

“Why are you in riot gear? I don’t see no riot here!”

Despite orders to evacuate the park, a slowly dissipating crowd remained in the area during the early morning hours of March 25th. Needless to say, the attempted sweep of the area was essentially unfruitful.

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LET Unity

There’s been a recent surge in anti-police protests, demonstrations, and even clashes with police over attempts to clean up homeless encampments throughout the country in recent months. 

Earlier in March, Law Enforcement Today reported on one such instance that occurred in Minneapolis. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Protesters assaulted Minneapolis police officers as law enforcement personnel attempted a scheduled clearing of the Near North homeless encampment on March 18th.

The city of Minneapolis had requested assistance from the Minneapolis Police Department in closing the encampment after the Minneapolis Health Department and Community Planning and Economic Development Department (CPED) determined that the location demonstrated “contamination, fire hazards, and other health and safety risks.”

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, more than 100 protesters were present at the encampment as officers arrived at approximately 7am Thursday, March 18.

When officers began to tape off the area, they noted that several dumpsters had been pushed into the road.  Several people began tearing down the tape.

Police were then “confronted by several men” and were hit with snowballs.  

According to the MPD, approximately 25 to 30 people  “were ‘actively challenging’ officers and pushing against their line.”  One person then physically attacked an officer and resisted arrest, and then another officer was punched in the face.

As people surrounded the officers, a woman jumped on the back of one officer and attempted to choke him.

According to the Police Tribune, protesters attacked officers from behind as they attempted to make arrests of those who were already attacking them.

Officers had to utilize pepper spray against a line of protesters.

One bystander video, which has been shared widely over social media and is shown repeatedly starting at 0:47 in the news segment below, shows multiple protesters attacking police officers.

This short video has been accompanied by cries of “police brutality” on social media, as it appears also to show an officer kneeling on the upper back of a protester after pulling the protester off another officer.

The MPD is reviewing its use of force policies, as is customary after such an incident, but Chief Medaria Arradondo made it clear that he did not tolerate the assault of police officers.

He stated at a press conference:

“From the limited video that I have seen, I was appalled by the actions of those community members that attacked my officers.” 

Arradondo added: 

“I am thankful that they were not seriously injured.”

In all, five people were arrested, and five officers suffered minor injuries in the melee.

Police departed the scene without removing the encampment.

The Near North encampment was established in October of 2020 after residents were moved out of a city park.

According to a statement from the city of Minneapolis, city authorities have made two previous attempts to close Near North.  A February 12 closure date was extended to February 25 due to extreme cold, and then the February 24 date was cancelled in order to give residents more time to “secure more permanent housing.”

The city stated that at that time, it told residents:

“the camp will be closed in the near future due to public health risk of site contamination, and that the closure could happen sooner if conditions at the site changed.”

City officials and resident representatives have given conflicting accounts of the closure process and alternative housing options.

As noted above, the city has claimed it had discussed potential closure with residents well in advance.  According to KARE11 News, the city also posted notices on Monday, March 15, about the expected encampment clearance Thursday, March 18.

Activists from Near North, however, stated on social media in a tweeted call to arms that they had only a scant two days’ notice about a shutdown.

Furthermore, activists also declared that for the 20 residents of Near North:

“The city has given no place to go.

“Even temporary shelters lack capacity.”

This declaration flies in the face of a statement from the city regarding the closure, which noted:

“Currently, there is enough capacity in the shelter system to provide alternative accommodation for everyone at the encampment. As of this morning, there were 29 men’s shelter beds and 46 women’s shelter beds available in the shelter system.”

The city added:

“Outreach workers have been engaging with residents to connect them to shelter and housing resources and will continue to do so until the encampment is closed. 

“The City will also provide transportation to encampment residents to help them get to shelter, housing or to stay with a friend or family member on the closure date.”

In addition, a public notice posted at the site listed resources and promised the availability of outreach workers.

Despite the apparent availability of resources and shelter, however, some residents simply do not want to move out of the encampment to a shelter facility.

One resident, Sandy Kelting, told the Star Tribune:

“Most of us have had bad experiences with shelters. They get you under their thumb, they treat you like children.” 

She added:

”I literally would rather take a chance on hypothermia than go back to the shelter. That’s how a lot of us feel.”

John Tribbett, street outreach member of St. Stephen’s Human Services, explained further that shelters come with “many problems — overcrowding, stringent rules — that are exacerbated in a pandemic.”

He told the Star Tribune:

“There’s a long-running narrative that treats homelessness in our community like a math problem.” 

Tribbett continued:

“It’s looking at a spreadsheet and saying we have X amount of beds available, so therefore people who are outside could opt to use those beds, and since they’re not, they’re making a choice not to go to shelter. 

“And that’s a very reductive way of understanding what’s happening in people’s lives.”

Near North activists have tweeted that they are demanding:

“Land to move to together, on which to establish permanent homes, before leaving this camp.”

There is no report at this time as to when or whether the city of Minneapolis will renew its efforts to clear out the Near North camp.

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Author: Gregory Hoyt

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