The sweep of an encampment at San Lorenzo Park—per an executive order by City Manager Martin Bernal, and intentionally coincided with the city council holiday break to prevent city council from overriding the order—goes against CDC guidelines, and also goes against Governor Newsom’s shelter-in-place order.
The park is home to over 200 people, many of whom have come to the park after being pushed out of other encampments by the police and told they could relocate to the park. There are not enough shelter spaces for those being displaced, plus shelters are not preferred to isolation placements due to the pandemic, according to Governor Newsom’s March 18 press release. Hotel vouchers are scarce, with priority given to disabled and elderly people, and even for those demographics approval takes months, and their stay is temporary. The encampment is being swept in increments due to its size, and the excuses are that the park is being shut off to the public for cleaning and lawn restoration and that the encampment is a public nuisance. The park is clean, people pick up after themselves or help their neighbors by picking up their trash, and it has a real sense of community. Community members and organizations like Food Not Bombs came out on Monday to stop the police from entering the park to no avail, and the people in the portion of the park the police said they would sweep on Monday were kicked out of their homes and displaced. I am writing to expose the inhumanity of the action to the public, encourage people to pressure the city council to call an emergency meeting, and help bring more people to the park to end the sweep.
Katayun Salehi | Santa Cruz
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