Portland metropolis employees cleared a homeless campsite and picked up trash and syringes in Deering Oaks early Wednesday simply hours earlier than former Gov. Paul LePage made a scheduled look within the park to speak about crime.
LePage held a information convention in entrance of a pond that town drained this month to assist Portland police seek for a gun utilized in a deadly taking pictures.
He used the setting to say crime and unlawful drug use have elevated partially due to the Mills administration’s insurance policies and teams that present needles and drug kits in an effort to scale back the hurt of substance use. Democrats fired again that LePage put individuals in danger as governor when he opposed therapy and hurt discount efforts.
The removing of the campsite and the cleanup have been scheduled earlier than town discovered LePage was coming to city, Portland spokeswoman Jessica Grondin mentioned.
“We have now been doing this recurrently as circumstances require (trash, encampments, and many others) and as sources permit,” Grondin wrote in an electronic mail. “We do varied cleanups a number of instances every week on a weekly foundation. This was not a one-off.” She mentioned in an interview that metropolis crews clear up the realm a mean of 3 times every week.
In July, interim Metropolis Supervisor Danielle West issued a coverage directive balancing the wants of unhoused individuals with state and native prohibitions in opposition to tenting on public land.
When shelters are full, employees usually are not imagined to require campsites be eliminated until they’re deemed obstructions or hazards. If campsites are to be eliminated, unhoused individuals ought to obtain 24 hours’ discover and ought to be supplied sources alongside enforcement. Private belongings faraway from websites ought to be inventoried and saved.
Grondin mentioned Wednesday afternoon that the 24 hours’ discover coverage doesn’t apply to the realm that was cleared. “We don’t must do 24 hours as a result of we now have it posted already that individuals could possibly be moved,” she mentioned.
Metropolis employees arrived shortly after 7 a.m., greater than three hours earlier than LePage’s information convention. They picked up free trash and syringes, together with in an space of the park the place small teams of homeless individuals have arrange campsites. In addition they informed a minimum of three individuals they needed to depart camps. Whereas the occupants of the camps moved a few of their belongings, metropolis employees picked up different contents, together with a bicycle and clothes, and threw them right into a front-end loader, which carried them to a dump truck.
Jeremy Inexperienced, 39, collapsed his tent after being requested by a park ranger to pack up and depart Deering Oaks. Inexperienced, who has been homeless in Portland for 3 years, mentioned he has been residing within the park for a month and this was the primary time he was requested to go away. He didn’t know why.
Different campers within the park who weren’t requested to go away mentioned metropolis crews periodically clear up the realm, though they didn’t know why the crews arrived once they did. The parks and recreation division additionally has been offering rakes and plastic trash barrels to assist individuals who camp hold it clear.
Three individuals interviewed Wednesday mentioned they have been informed to maneuver from the park. One girl, who declined to offer her identify, mentioned she was rousted by a park ranger who requested her to maneuver her campsite.
A 3rd particular person tenting within the park, who additionally wouldn’t present her identify, mentioned she understands frustration with unhoused individuals tenting. However they’re out of choices.
“That is the closest space to our meals supply,” she mentioned, gesturing towards Bayside, the place help organizations hand out meals most days. “Why would they offer us rakes and stuff if we aren’t allowed to be right here? What do they need us to do? The place are we imagined to go?”
The park’s pond has been drained since Walter Omal, a 31-year-old Portland man, was shot Sept. 7 close to a pair of park benches going through the pond near the intersection of Park Avenue and State Road. He was rushed to the hospital and later died.
Amin Awes Mohamed, 38, of Boston, is charged with one rely of homicide in Omal’s killing and is being held with out bail on the Cumberland County Jail. An affidavit that might clarify the proof within the case has been sealed.
Of their seek for proof, police ordered the park’s pond drained on Sept. 8, and a half dozen investigators placed on waterproof gear and waded into the mud, utilizing their toes, rakes, shovels and steel detectors to search for a weapon.
The incident within the park was certainly one of a sequence of unrelated shootings throughout a spike in violent crime within the metropolis this summer time.