Fresno city workers cleared a homeless encampment near Palm Avenue and H Street on Wednesday after encountering protests from some residents as well as homeless advocates when they arrived.
It is the fourth camp to be removed since August, when officials said "no more" to the villages of makeshift structures composed of tarps, tents and pallets. City officials acted after a series of fires and reports of drugs and gang activity at some of the camps in downtown Fresno.
The camp near Palm and H was in a relative "no-man's land," tucked near railroad tracks and a Producers Dairy warehouse, within sight of an elevated portion of Highway 180 and the grain elevators at the end of Palm.
Some of the homeless there had previously been booted from downtown encampments.
Wednesday, tempers flared when Jim Betts, a contract attorney with the city, arrived shortly after 7 a.m., accompanied by city workers and several plainclothes police officers. Several protesters shouted obscenities at the officials and one homeless woman briefly confronted a female officer before the homeless woman was escorted away.
An encampment regular who calls himself Patch shouted, "You don't care!" at Betts. "If you did, you would help these people get into their own homes."
Brenda Munoz said residents were only given 12 days' notice by the city of plans to remove the camp.
"We want to leave peacefully, but that doesn't give us enough time," she said.
Richard Borrell, who said he visits the camp frequently as part of his ministry, said the evictions by the city are simply pushing the homeless problem to other parts of town.
"Where do we go from here?" he asked. "These are God's people here."
One camper painted a message on a pallet: "America please help they are takeing (sic) my nothings"
Georgia Williams of Fresno Homeless Advocates called the city's action "absolutely inhumane." She said that unlike other homeless camps, the H and Palm camp was occupied by residents who policed themselves and didn't allow drugs and violence in the area. She said that by not allowing the camp to continue, the city lost an opportunity to start a pilot project.
As in other evictions, the city workers were careful to collect belongings of the residents and move them to storage where the items can be collected by their owners. Officials say the city will work to find homes for the residents and also offer other programs, such as substance abuse treatment.
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