Efforts to clean up a homeless encampment in a Los Angeles park is being stymied by the MS-13 gang, which considers the park their territory.
According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, city officials planned to close MacArthur Park on October 15 to clean out the encampment, offer services to the campers and renovate the 35-acre property. The project is budgeted to cost $1.5 million, and the city had planned on reopening the park in January. However, the violent gang regularly terrorizes neighbors near the park and has even targeted members of the LGBTQ community.
Residents are concerned about a repeat of the violent showdown in March at Echo Park between police, and violent protesters who attempted to prevent authorities from clearing the an encampment and rehabilitating the park.
Los Angeles City Council member Gil Cedillo, whose district includes MacArthur Park said, "We have tried to learn from the experiences of our colleagues in Echo Park and Venice, and from the city collectively as we figure out how to go forward."
Cedillo's deputy district director Jose Rodriquez told the outlet that the MS-13 gang was interfering with efforts to clear the encampment and offer temporary housing to the homeless in hotels and motels. Approximately, 160 campers have already been relocated from the park.
Increased crime from the encampments in Los Angeles, plus an increase in encampment fires have exacerbated the situation. Encampments have continued to grow during the pandemic. Homeless agencies estimate that more than 41,000 people are currently living on the streets of the city.