The Fullerton Police Department has issued an ultimatum to the homeless people living in a camp near the closed Hunt Library facility, ordering them to leave by 3:00 pm Friday, June 14. Police have promised to store property for the displaced homeless people for up to thirty days, but some have expressed skepticism over the eventual fate of their posessions. Just last week police officers raided the encampment, making several arrests for drug use.
On June 4 the Fullerton City Council approved the beginning of lease negotiations with neighboring Grace Ministries, who want to rent the Hunt Library property for up to two years while their offices are renovated.
A two part video on Youtube by former Fullerton Public Library Trustee Marlena Carrillo shows the encampment of eighty people trying to figure out where they are going to go to avoid arrest. “We’re just out here still trying to live, just like anybody else,” says one camper in the video, who argued that they should have been given at least thirty days to leave. In the second part of the video a police officer states that he “just found out about this yesterday.”
One has to wonder about the timing of both the raid and eviction. The Hunt Library was closed by an emergency vote of the Library’s Board of Trustees three months ago because they were told that conditions had become dangerous for library staff.
At that time Fullerton Rag wondered why the Fullerton Police Department was incapable of maintaining safety at a city facility, one that has their name posted above the front door. Instead, they chose not to enforce Fullerton’s anti-camping laws, allowing the camp’s population to double in the past six months before finally deciding the time was right to raid it. Portable toilets had even moved to the site, and The Coast to Coast Foundation were feeding people there twice a month. During a recent City Council meeting Coast to Coast even invited members of the public to help with the food distribution, and presented awards to City Manager Joe Felz, Police Chief Dan Hughes, and the entire Fullerton City Council.
At that time none of the award recipients mentioned that the city would raid and then evict the camp in the near future. The camp was allowed to remain while police “responded to 460 calls to the site or incidents there,” until just one week after the City Council gave its approval to lease out the property.
If a homeless camp can be evicted now to make it safe for a new lessee of the Hunt Branch property, why couldn’t it have been done while it was still a library? And just where are the homeless people supposed to go with a permanent homeless shelter years away from opening and the police department now enforcing the city’s anti-camping laws?