SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Flanked across an entrance to where 75 or so homeless had camped since January, a few dozen protesters shouted "Stand our ground" and tried to block Sacramento Sheriff's deputies from entering a vacant lot, once home to a motel.
Around 8 a.m., deputies moved in the 5700 block of Stockton Blvd., even blocking off a portion of the busy street between Fruitridge Road and Southwest Avenue, after giving those camped there a 72-hour notice to leave.
One of them was Kathy Newman, who says she has been homeless for more than three years.
"When they move us from here, they [don't] have a place for us to go...so we're back in the same spot," said Newman.
Sheriff's deputies, some in riot gear, secured the lot to keep the peace.
Homeless advocates say they sent a "demand letter" to Sacramento County, which owns the land, that the move to keep the homeless out was not legal. They based their claim on a federal ruling last year that says the homeless can't be punished for sleeping on public property.
"When you don't provide the resources to keep something clean, this is what happens, OK? We're in a housing crisis right now. The vouchers? They're worthless. They're a piece of paper," said Crystal Sanchez, a homeless advocate.
The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department says they have been at the lot every day for four months offering resources to get the homeless off the streets.
"They're out here...almost daily....to offer those resources to let these folks know, hey, we're going to need to move this on. We need to get this place cleaned up. It's unsanitary. How can we help you?," said Tess Deterding, Public Information Officer with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office.
On top of that, sheriff's officials say the camp became dangerous and a magnet for theft, robbery and violence. The sheriff's department says it has gotten 69 calls for service at the camp location since January.
Ironically, the cleanup is not only a welcome relief for surrounding businesses, but ironically, the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency has plans to build low-income housing at the site to eventually provide homes to those who are without.
Stockton Blvd finally opened up to traffic around 5 p.m.
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