A homeless encampment in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo started being cleared Thursday and into the midnight hour.

The Toriumi Plaza began seeing fencing around mid-day, as crews from the Los Angeles Homeless Services (LAHSA), Urban Alchemy and L.A. Sanitation and Environment, began to move in on the homeless community that resided there.

On Wednesday, March 16, Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin De León formally addressed the encampment clearing, saying more than 80 individuals from the encampment had been provided shelter through Project Roomkey and the area would no longer be allowed to be used as an encampment.

“Over 80 individuals have already accepted housing and we will continue to offer housing opportunities for the remainder of people who expressed reluctance,” De León said in an open letter addressed to Little Tokyo residents. “However, after Thursday, March 17 at 10 p.m.,  they will no longer be able to remain encamped at the plaza which will be fenced off for deferred maintenance and repairs.”

De León added that Little Tokyo community members and business owners expressed concerns over the encampments and alleged assaults, sexual assaults, drug overdoses, fires, and weapon brandishing.

“I take these concerns seriously, especially since many of the victims are unhoused individuals with nowhere to turn for help,” De León said. “That’s why my team and I are leading with housing solutions, so that we can bring people indoors where they can be safe and get the support they need.”

Crews at the plaza were met with protesters who placed signs on the fencing that read, “Services not sweeps,” and “KDL hates the poor,” in reference to Councilman De León.

 

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Community members filmed as crews began removing leftover items from the encampment, deep into the night. Soon after midnight, LAPD officers arrived at the plaza and began to move protesters behind the fencing.

“These people don’t give a single shit about unhoused people,” J-Town Action and Solidarity posted in an Instagram video after a verbal altercation with a staff member with the cleaning crew, Thursday. “It’s all a game to them, a joke.”

 

LA Weekly