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LAPD Deny Teargassing Echo Park Protesters Over Plan To Move Homeless Camp

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The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has denied reports that officers have used tear gas while trying to disperse protesters at Echo Park in Los Angeles.

Police in riot gear clashed with protesters on Wednesday night, over an order to remove a large homeless encampment there to make roughly $500,000 in repairs to the park.

Social media videos show protests flaring up and police using force on and pushing homeless advocates and homeless people in the park and their supporters. The footage also shows the protesters pushing back on the police.

The footage shows the police pushing demonstrators shouting “leave the area”, while activists shouted back “you leave the area”, “keep pushing” and profanity.

Journalist Gabriel Funte on Twitter said that an eyewitness said a smoke bomb was set off by a protester, while other Twitter accounts have claimed that police officers deployed tear gas.

Cops getting aggressive with protesters and teargassing #EchoPark pic.twitter.com/GuESxubkIJ

— Waterspider (@waterspider__) March 25, 2021

The LAPD has denied these claiming, stating on Twitter: “We have issued a third dispersal order at Santa Ynez and Glendale.

“We are seeing inaccurate social media reports that LAPD officers are using ‘tear gas’. These reports are completely inaccurate. There is NO tear gas being used.”

We have issued a third dispersal order at Santa Ynez and Glendale.

We are seeing inaccurate social media reports that LAPD officers are using “tear gas”. These reports are completely inaccurate. There is NO tear gas being used.

— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) March 25, 2021

At around 10.50 p.m., the LAPD declared an unlawful assembly in the park and city-wide tactical alert, giving them the power to arrest protesters, though there have been no known arrests so far.

The California Highway Patrol blocked the Echo Park Avenue off-ramp from the northbound Hollywood (101) Freeway about 10 p.m.

Tensions had been simmering for a few days as rights of the housed and non-housed in one of the city’s most scenic spots went head-to-head.

The park needs repairs that will cost half a million dollars, but the city says it can’t safely make those repairs without the homeless camp being moved. It has offered to re-house the homeless people in the park.

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But activists say that moving the homeless there during a pandemic would pose a threat to their health and safety.

Some local residents have been complaining of drug use, crime and litter, and a petition garnered more than 4,000 signatures asking the city to remove the camp.

The Los Angeles Times reported that by latest count, 174 tents or makeshift structures congregated at the north end of the lake in the park and spread along its western shore.

LAPD officers were placed on “tactical alert” on Wednesday, meaning they can’t leave duty until the system has been resolved. Officers from as far as the San Fernando valley have arrived at the scene to disperse the crowds, NBC Los Angeles reported.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell issued a statement on Wednesday night, 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.

“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.”

The Liberty Buzz has contacted the LAPD for comment.

Social activists and supporters of residents of a homeless encampment face off with police arriving on scene at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles, March 24, 2021, ahead of a planned and announced cleanup of the encampment as part of an estimated half-million-dollar City of Los Angeles cleanup and repair effort.
Federic Brown/Getty

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