Homeless leave Spokane City Hall as police oversee cleanup at Camp Hope
SPOKANE, Wash. — Weeks of protest and pushback outside Spokane City Hall may have come to an end Sunday, as police enforced the city’s removal of property order posted on Thursday. Post Street was blocked off as several officers oversaw the cleanup of Camp Hope, the makeshift homeless camp outside City Hall.
Crews from Spokane Code Enforcement and the Geiger Correctional Facility threw leftover belongings into a dump truck after the homeless had a chance to pack up and leave.
“First, police came out and asked people to please pack up their things and so individuals who were here packed up their belongings,” said city spokesperson Marlene Feist. “And anything that was left after the packing, the abatement crew did come and remove.”
Feist said this is one of 100 camps the city has cleaned up since June — something it’s been trying to do for the last month. Its original notice, posted in November, was met with protests, including one on Saturday which saw advocates like Valerie Waley chained together with city councilwoman Kate Burke, protesting the removal of the camp.
“It’s sad. It’s a little overwhelming. It’s not unexpected,” Waley said Sunday. “Everybody’s a human being and needs to be treated as such. Everybody deserves respect.”
Waley helped homeless people like Steven Bessermin pack up their belongings.
“This was a beacon of hope, a 24/7 place that people could come and actually be given advice, given food, given clothing,” said Bessermin about Camp Hope. “They didn’t even dismantle it, they just bundled all the tents up with the gear inside of it, what can literally be protecting people’s lives, and threw it away.”
Spokane Police say two men were arrested after the cleanup started Sunday for obstructing a law enforcement officer. Police say the men did not stay overnight at the camp, but ignored orders given to them by officers.
Police say as of Saturday night, there were 46 openings at the Salem Lutheran Warming Center, with space for women at House of Charity.
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