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Tensions flare as crews dismantle several homeless encampments on Skid Row

<i>KABC</i><br/>Tensions flared Monday morning as crews dismantled several homeless encampments on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles while police officers stood guard.
KABC
Tensions flared Monday morning as crews dismantled several homeless encampments on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles while police officers stood guard.

By Carlos Granda

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    DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Tensions flared Monday morning as crews dismantled several homeless encampments on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles while police officers stood guard.

Video from AIR7 HD showed a dump truck’s crane grabbing one encampment’s canopy tent, which had apparently been constructed with a raised floor and walls. All of the debris was then hoisted into the truck and hauled away.

That sparked an angry reaction from some bystanders, who stood behind yellow police tape at the intersection of Fifth and San Pedro streets.

“So I built my house right here on wheels,” said homeless activist Stephanie Arnold Williams. “I was going to start building it for the homeless. They don’t want tiny houses here.”

Officials contacted by ABC7 said the operation was part of a routine cleanup conducted by the L.A. Sanitation department.

“I’m not sure what they’re calling it but this was not a ‘routine cleanup,'” the Rev. Andy Bales said in an interview, adding that it was part of a long-term solution to get people on Skid Row into safe housing.

“We have to end Skid Row as we know it,” Bales said, “and not allow people to suffer and die on the streets.”

One man, who was in a wheelchair, said he was injured during the cleanup. Apparent blood was visible on a bandage wrapped around his left hand.

“I had my knife sitting on my lap,” he said. “A police officer snatched the knife off my lap and cut my finger.”

Members of the cleanup crews declined to comment, as did LAPD officers at the scene, who said only that they were there to protect the crews.

“People are saying, ‘They should be able to keep their tents. They should be able to camp in L.A. like everybody else.’ Well no,” Bales said. “Not everybody in L.A. can go camping anywhere they want to go. You need to move inside, where you’ll be safe and where the street drugs and the violence will not continue affecting you.”

The office of Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass did not immediately respond to ABC7’s request for comment.

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