LAPD cops in riot gear descend on Echo Park to clear out huge homeless encampment that is making the beauty spot unusable for locals - but are repelled by 200 protesters as scuffles break out

 LAPD cops in riot gear descended on a huge homeless encampment at Los Angeles' Echo Park to clear out the area, but were repelled by around 200 protesters defending the community as scuffles broke out.

Over the last few months, the encampment has grown to nearly 200 tents and covers nearly half the park, with residents living in the area concerned about drug use, crime and the increasing amount of trash. 

The officers, armed with batons and rifles, carried out the planned sweep on Wednesday night but were met by more than 200 protesters who refused to leave the area, the Los Angeles Times reported.


Around 10.30 p.m. on Wednesday, officers told protesters to disperse and then called it an 'unlawful assembly' when most refused. Officers were seen pushing several protesters as they tried to move them away from the area.

Protesters - a mix of the homeless community living in the park and activists who have joined their cause - chanted 'whose park? our park' as the LAPD ordered them to 'clear the area' over a loudspeaker. 

The issue of the homeless encampment at Echo Park has become a 'highly charged test of city leaders' struggle to balance residents' demands for clean streets and public spaces as it battles to contain its growing homeless problem, the Times reported. 

A city-wide tactical alert was issued on Wednesday night, as the protesters rallied against plans to permanently disperse those living in the park and close the area for what is being touted as more than $500,000 in repairs.


LAPD cops in riot gear descended on a homeless encampment at Los Angeles' Echo Park to clear out the area

LAPD cops in riot gear descended on a homeless encampment at Los Angeles' Echo Park to clear out the area

The officers, armed with batons and rifles, carried out the planned sweep on Wednesday night but were met by more than 200 protesters who refused to leave the area

The officers, armed with batons and rifles, carried out the planned sweep on Wednesday night but were met by more than 200 protesters who refused to leave the area

Around 10.30pm on Wendesday, officers told protesters to dispersed and then called an 'unlawful assembly' when most wouldn't

Around 10.30pm on Wendesday, officers told protesters to dispersed and then called an 'unlawful assembly' when most wouldn't

A police officer points a pepper balls gun toward activists and supporters of residents of a homeless encampment at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles late on March 24, 2021

A police officer points a pepper balls gun toward activists and supporters of residents of a homeless encampment at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles late on March 24, 2021

Pictured: A still image taken from a video showing the Echo Park protesters and police lines from above

Pictured: A still image taken from a video showing the Echo Park protesters and police lines from above

LAPD cops descend on Echo Park encampment to clear out homeless
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At around 10 p.m., park rangers were joined by LAPD officers in taping notices of closure onto trees and lampposts on the east side of the park, where a number of homeless people have been camping during the coronavirus pandemic.

The signs warned that Echo Park would close on Thursday, and said that all personal property must be removed from the park by then, 'including, but not limited to, tents, chairs, tables, backpacks, bags, and personal items.' 

While being guarded by LAPD officers and in the glare of flood lights, city workers unloaded fence from a truck before unfurling green fabric that was hung along the fencing.

Nearby streets, including Glendale Boulevard and Echo Park Avenue, were closed off by the police, as was the Glendale Boulevard off-ramp on both sides of the 101 Freeway.


Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said the homeless residents staying inside the park would be allowed to stay overnight, but that no one else can enter, and added that the residents must leave within 24 hours. 

Some of the protesters who had gathered in an attempt to block the city's attempt to remove the residents saw Moore's statement as a victory, with one organizer shouting 'We won the night,' according to the Times.

One of the residents said: 'I live here and I consider tonight a victory.'

Los Angeles police arrive to evict homeless encampments at Echo Park Lake during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 24, 2021

Los Angeles police arrive to evict homeless encampments at Echo Park Lake during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 24, 2021

Cops ordering protesters to 'clear out the area' over loudspeaker were met with chants of 'whose park? our park'

Cops ordering protesters to 'clear out the area' over loudspeaker were met with chants of 'whose park? our park'

Earlier in the day, signs were posted on trees and light poles saying that the park will close on Thursday, and that all personal property needed to be removed. That included tents, chairs, tables, backpacks, bags and personal items

Earlier in the day, signs were posted on trees and light poles saying that the park will close on Thursday, and that all personal property needed to be removed. That included tents, chairs, tables, backpacks, bags and personal items

Los Angeles city contractors install a temporary fence around Echo Park Lake's perimeter in Los Angeles early Thursday, March 25, 2021

Los Angeles city contractors install a temporary fence around Echo Park Lake's perimeter in Los Angeles early Thursday, March 25, 2021

Los Angeles Police officers stand on a wagon as demonstrators face-off on the Echo Park Lake's perimeter in Los Angeles late Thursday, March 25, 2021. Protesters criticised the police officers for their equipment. 'Why are you in riot gear? I don't see no riot here!' they chanted at the officers

Los Angeles Police officers stand on a wagon as demonstrators face-off on the Echo Park Lake's perimeter in Los Angeles late Thursday, March 25, 2021. Protesters criticised the police officers for their equipment. 'Why are you in riot gear? I don't see no riot here!' they chanted at the officers

But just before 10.30 p.m., the LAPD issued a dispersal order to the crowd over a loudspeaker and officially declared the protest an 'unlawful assembly'. Police formed skirmish lines in front of the large group of protesters.

This led to some clashes between protesters and the police force, with officers dressed in riot gear seen shoving people, while some bottles and other objects were thrown at the police.

LAPD officers tried to push the protesters back from the park, but they refused to move.

At one point during the confrontation, a line of police was seen moving slowly along Glendale Boulevard at the edge of the Echo Park Lake, telling protesters to leave. They were met with chants of 'Whose park? Our park!'

Protesters then took up a chant, criticising the police officers for their equipment. 'Why are you in riot gear? I don't see no riot here!' they chanted. 

Pictured: Demonstrators lock arms trying to prevent police from advancing into the Echo Park section of Los Angeles to evict its homeless residents in the early hours of Thursday, March 25, 2021

Pictured: Demonstrators lock arms trying to prevent police from advancing into the Echo Park section of Los Angeles to evict its homeless residents in the early hours of Thursday, March 25, 2021

Los Angeles police officers move in to arrest demonstrators in the Echo Park Lake homeless encampment in Los Angeles late Wednesday, March 24, 2021. LAPD officers tried to push the protesters back from the park, but they refused to move

Los Angeles police officers move in to arrest demonstrators in the Echo Park Lake homeless encampment in Los Angeles late Wednesday, March 24, 2021. LAPD officers tried to push the protesters back from the park, but they refused to move

Los Angeles Police officers close traffic around the Echo Park Lake as they move in to remove a homeless encampment in Los Angeles late on Wednesday night, March 24, 2021

Los Angeles Police officers close traffic around the Echo Park Lake as they move in to remove a homeless encampment in Los Angeles late on Wednesday night, March 24, 2021

Pictured: Police officers stand near the Echo Park Lake, as they prepare for the eviction of the homeless encampments, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Los Angeles, in the early hours of March 25, 2021

Pictured: Police officers stand near the Echo Park Lake, as they prepare for the eviction of the homeless encampments, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Los Angeles, in the early hours of March 25, 2021

A demonstrator sets up a tent in front of police in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles Thursday, March 25

A demonstrator sets up a tent in front of police in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles Thursday, March 25

Activists and supporters of residents of a homeless encampment confront police at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles late on March 24, 202

Activists and supporters of residents of a homeless encampment confront police at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles late on March 24, 202

But by 12:30 a.m., The Los Angeles Times reported that the number of protesters had dwindled to about 40 people, who were vastly outnumbered by several hundred police officers watching on.

Some residents of the camp said they would refuse to leave, while others decided it was time to go. 

One homeless man, Edward Juarez told the LA Times that he had been living in the park since August after he lost his job as a professional photographer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

'I just want to get out of here, it's getting crazy,' he told the site. 

Earlier, at 10:05 p.m., Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell issued a statement saying 'the Los Angeles Police Department was asked to support community safety efforts during installation of the fencing to assist in the rehabilitation of Echo Park,' according to NBS Los Angeles.

'Department personnel are deployed in that area so that those efforts can begin in a safe and unimpeded manner.

'Our homeless service providers will return tomorrow morning to continue their work with the park's unhoused residents to offer shelter and services to anyone who wants and needs the assistance.'  

LA residents rally in support of homeless living in Echo Park Lake
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Pictured: Demonstrators block the road next to Echo Park in an attempt to stop the LAPD from clearing the park of the homeless camp that has formed during the coronavirus pandemic. One man holds a sign reading 'stop the sweep'

Pictured: Demonstrators block the road next to Echo Park in an attempt to stop the LAPD from clearing the park of the homeless camp that has formed during the coronavirus pandemic. One man holds a sign reading 'stop the sweep'

At one point during the confrontation, a line of police was seen moving slowly along Glendale Boulevard at the edge of the Echo Park Lake, telling protesters to leave. They were met with chants of 'Whose park? Our park!'

At one point during the confrontation, a line of police was seen moving slowly along Glendale Boulevard at the edge of the Echo Park Lake, telling protesters to leave. They were met with chants of 'Whose park? Our park!'

Pictured: Activists and supporters of the homeless community in Echo Park stand in front of a line of police officers dressed in riot gear. One woman holds up a sign that reads 'care not cops'

Pictured: Activists and supporters of the homeless community in Echo Park stand in front of a line of police officers dressed in riot gear. One woman holds up a sign that reads 'care not cops'

The police department also released a statement, urging 'calm and cooperation as the installation of fencing in support of the Echo Park rehabilitation effort continues. Unfortunately officers have received projectiles and refusals from individuals blocking streets in the area.'

On Twitter, it also denied that officers had used tear gas against the protesters, posted 'There is NO tear gas being used.' Pictures from the scene appeared to corroborate the department's statement. 

Also late on Wednesday, the SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition demanded that the park closure and eviction by postponed so that the residents 'have the necessary time to meaningfully connect with service providers who are working tirelessly to serve them.' 

By Thursday morning, the crowd had reduced in size, and the protest had largely wound down. 

While the city has closed other, larger homeless encampments with less resistance, the future of the camp at Echo Park is proving to be a point of conflict in its on-going struggle with the homelessness epidemic.

Unlike with previous sweeps, which has seen the city temporarily displace residents so workers can clean up the area, the sweep at Echo Park is intended to be permanent. 

The city is offering to move people of the encampments to hotel rooms that it is temporarily renting under a state program called Project Roomkey - an approach that has also been taken in New York City. 

On Monday and Tuesday, outreach workers from the homeless services agency moved 44 people from the lake into hotel, according to project spokesman Ahmad Chapman. On Wednesday morning, shuttle buses took another 15 to 20 people to a downtown hotel.

Los Angeles city contractors install a temporary fence around Echo Park Lake's perimeter in Los Angeles early Thursday, March 25, 2021 under orders from the City

Los Angeles city contractors install a temporary fence around Echo Park Lake's perimeter in Los Angeles early Thursday, March 25, 2021 under orders from the City

Pictured: The tents of the homeless encampment in Echo Park along the walkway around the lake. The city plans to clear the park for what it describes as a half-million-dollar repair effort in Los Angeles, 24 March 2021

Pictured: The tents of the homeless encampment in Echo Park along the walkway around the lake. The city plans to clear the park for what it describes as a half-million-dollar repair effort in Los Angeles, 24 March 2021

Echo Park is found north of Downtown Los Angeles, close to Dodger Stadium, and is around a ten minute drive from Hollywood. During the coronavirus pandemic, it has become the site of a camp of homeless people, next to the lake

Echo Park is found north of Downtown Los Angeles, close to Dodger Stadium, and is around a ten minute drive from Hollywood. During the coronavirus pandemic, it has become the site of a camp of homeless people, next to the lake


Some residents of the camp have agreed to vacate the park, but others are vowing to resist the city's eviction attempts, arguing that the park has been improved by its residents and their allies as a place that gives homeless people safety and dignity that can not otherwise be found on sidewalks or under freeways.

The residents and those fighting for their right to stay argue that the encampment is a model example, with a pantry, a garden and coordinated efforts to clean the park.

Ayman Ahmed, a man in his 20s who has become an unofficial spokesperson for the encampment, told Councilman O'Farrel during a Wednesday morning protest 'This park could have easily been MacArthur [Park] or skid row, but it wasn't. It wasn't. That was because of us — not you,' according to the Los Angeles Times.

But as the camp grew last year to nearly 200 tents, it also drew the ire of neighbours, while city leaders argued that they were not pushing people out, but rather offering them better accommodation. 

'You define a sweep as moving someone indoors to a safe, clean environment where they will be provided free, healthy meals, receive medical care and a path to wellness, then you can call it what you want,' O'Farrell said later on Wednesday.

'Because this is what we are doing for everyone who has been there over the last several weeks or months.'

Many local residents demanded that O'Farrell do something about the camp, citing an intrusion of trash, drug use and crime in their neighborhood, which he represents. The councillor had said for a long time that he would close the park and repair damage, but resisted requests for a timetable.

However, the councillor has also faced much angry opposition over the park's closure, as well as criticisms over the secrecy surrounding the plans for the sweet that was enacted on Wednesday night.

In an angry phone call into a city council meeting on Wednesday, one protester called from the demonstration.

'Mitch, if you continue down this path, to sweep and displace unhoused residents of Echo Park Lake, there's going to be an escalation that you are not prepared for,' warned Ricci Sergienko of the activist group People's City Council, a group that has staged a number of protests.

At the end of the meeting, O'Farrell complained that there had been 'a concentrated and coordinated effort' to disrupt the relocation efforts, and denounced the idea that the camp 'commune-like'.

'The park has, in fact, devolved into a dangerous, chaotic environment for all users,' also noting there four people had died in Echo Park.

Some residents, however, have supported the encampment. 

'Echo Park Lake, situated on Tongva Land, has been a haven of this community since its development and should remain a free and accessible place for members of this community who need it for solace, leisure or survival,' Zarinah Williams, president of the Echo Park Neighborhood Council, said in a statement reported by NBS LA.

'We do not feel that $500,000 in restorative landscaping is a priority endeavor given layered consequences of displacement and criminalization of our residents.'  

Job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic are expected to leave tens of thousands of low-wage workers without homes over the next three years, a report released in January said

Pictured: A homeless man sits on a bench in front of the lake with signs behind him reading 'People Over Profit' and 'We Need Long Term Solution' next to a banner reading 'Healing Happening Here' in the homeless encampment in Echo Park, March 24

Pictured: A homeless man sits on a bench in front of the lake with signs behind him reading 'People Over Profit' and 'We Need Long Term Solution' next to a banner reading 'Healing Happening Here' in the homeless encampment in Echo Park, March 24

A man rummages through a pile of objects and boxes at a homeless encampment at Echo Park Lake Protest against planned clearing of Echo Park, March 24, 2021

A man rummages through a pile of objects and boxes at a homeless encampment at Echo Park Lake Protest against planned clearing of Echo Park, March 24, 2021

According to data from Economic Roundtable, the Pandemic Recession is projected to cause twice as much homelessness as the 2008 Great Recession. Pictured: A local walks past the homeless encampment in Echo Park

According to data from Economic Roundtable, the Pandemic Recession is projected to cause twice as much homelessness as the 2008 Great Recession. Pictured: A local walks past the homeless encampment in Echo Park

Pictured: A homeless woman packs her belonging in front of her tent in Echo Park as the city plans to clear the park for what it describes as a half-million-dollar repair effort in Los Angeles, 24 March 2021

Pictured: A homeless woman packs her belonging in front of her tent in Echo Park as the city plans to clear the park for what it describes as a half-million-dollar repair effort in Los Angeles, 24 March 2021

According to data from Economic Roundtable, the Pandemic Recession is projected to cause twice as much homelessness as the 2008 Great Recession.

'It looks like the impacts could be twice as bad as they were in 2008,' said Dan Flaming, president of the Economic Roundtable. 'This recession is particularly bad because it's hitting vulnerable workers harder than the last recession.' 

Homeless people in the United States have been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. While research has shown that homeless people have been surprisingly resilient to infection, research shows that those that do catch the virus are 30 percent more likely to die than those in the general population, according to The Times.

In Los Angeles county - which has roughly 15,000 chronically homeless individuals - homeless coronavirus patients were 50 percent more likely to die.

LAPD cops in riot gear descend on Echo Park to clear out huge homeless encampment that is making the beauty spot unusable for locals - but are repelled by 200 protesters as scuffles break out LAPD cops in riot gear descend on Echo Park to clear out huge homeless encampment that is making the beauty spot unusable for locals - but are repelled by 200 protesters as scuffles break out Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 10:31 Rating: 5

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