DC LAWMAKERS EVICT HOMELESS FROM ENCAMPMENT, CITE INCREASED CRIME AND VIOLENCE
Acumen News Report
PHOTOS BY SY SHERMAN / FOR THE ACUMEN GROUP/ACUMEN MAGAZINE
Dressed in white hazmat suits and face masks, National Park Service clean-up crews razed the homeless encampment at McPherson Square today (Feb. 15). The roughly 75 homeless Washingtonians who called the patch of parkland situated in the shadows of the White House home, saw their belongings unceremoniously documented with photos by officials, before being tossed into the backs of waiting trash trucks.
The park saw a recent uptick in population as encampments around the city fell under similar evacuation schemes. Littered with all and sundry, the park, once served as a lunch spot for workers along the K Street corridor. Clean-up crews revealed a bounty of garbage, and other hazards, including human waste stored in oversized containers.
"Several crises collide with the removal of these encampments around the city. While there is a clear sanitation issue, the larger, more pressing issue remains the unhoused residents of the city and how they are treated," homeless advocate Charlotte Houze told ACUMEN. "Many of the unhoused suffer from mental and emotional deficits which require interventions beyond housing them. Wrap-around services can work, but why would it require that authorities come in and throw what few things they have in garbage trucks? How traumatic is that? What we consider to be junk, in some cases is all they have. We need to address these issues with heightened compassion."
The Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services announced days before clearing McPherson that city agencies had placed nine people in homes, two in brand new permanent supportive housing.
The Department of Interior sent Deputy Mayor Wayne Turnage cited the need to clear the park was based on increased levels of violence and more than 30 arrests for assaults and drug-related offenses by the National Park Service.
“When we read about the incidence of a woman being doused with urine, over her head – when we put the knowledge of the fact that three people died from either combination of exposure or drug overdoses, we knew it was getting out of hand, and we had to do something," said Turnage.