CHRISTOPHER WEBER, Associated Press
A newly installed fence surrounded a Los Angeles park Thursday after a late-night confrontation between police and vocal demonstrators who oppose the city’s effort to remove a large homeless encampment and perform extensive repairs of the site.
People who were already in tents at Echo Park Lake were allowed to remain overnight but were given 24-hour notice to leave, Police Chief Michel Moore said in a social media post.
“Housing resources are being provided to everyone,” he said.
Streets around the park were closed off by officers Thursday morning and the Echo Park neighborhood was quiet.
A police statement said there were verbal confrontations but the protest Wednesday night was largely peaceful and demonstrators voluntarily left.
The department said it made one arrest for failure to comply with an officer’s orders and there were two minor uses of force. No injuries were reported.
The encampment had overtaken the park’s grassy areas surrounding the lake, an oasis-like locale where people normally stroll and picnic on the banks of a lake with a towering fountain and a view of the downtown skyline.
At a rally early Wednesday, demonstrators argued that the encampment offered a community for people with nowhere else to go.
Area City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell said more than 120 homeless residents had been moved into transitional housing to prepare for the park’s closing. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said at least 44 people were moved into shelters this week alone.
The Echo Park encampment’s location gave it a high profile but it was not unique. Tents can be found throughout the city and region despite an array of state and local programs intended to shelter people and transition them to permanent housing.
A January 2020 count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority reported that there were more than 66,400 homeless people living in Los Angeles County — by far the largest single concentration in the state. That included more than 41,000 people within LA city limits. Both figures were up more than 12% from the previous year. The annual count was canceled for 2021 because of the pandemic.
Among major legal actions on the issue is a federal court lawsuit filed by a group of business owners, residents and community leaders called the LA Alliance for Human Rights. The suit accuses the city and county of failing to comprehensively address the desperate situations facing homeless people — including hunger, crime, squalor and the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. District Judge David Carter, who is overseeing the case, called parties to a hearing in a Skid Row parking lot last month and said that if politicians can’t provide solutions, he wants to explore what powers the court has to deploy remedies.
Invoking the 1950s civil rights case Brown vs. Board of Education, Carter said there’s strong precedence of the federal courts acting “after a long period of inaction by local government officials.”
AP photojournalist Damian Dovarganes and AP writer John Antczak contributed to this report.