By VoiceWaves Youth Reporter Michael Lozano
Dedra Wilson was woken up around 5:40AM two Thursdays ago by Long Beach police. Wilson’s crime? Being homeless.
“They lined us up and told us we were all criminals,” Wilson said. “Raids. That’s what they call them…It’s happening more frequently.”
She and about 20 fellow homeless slept by the Long Beach courthouse to cover from last night’s rain. Police told her that next time instead of citations, they would be arrested and put in the jailhouse.
It was the day before the Grand Prix and many of Long Beach’s homeless say that’s not a coincidence.
Tickets issued to homeless living in and around the Civic Center.
Homeless folks at Lincoln Park say police increased enforcement in recent weeks to push them out of Downtown in preparation for the Grand Prix. According to those who live on the streets of Downtown, City workers conducted mass sweep-ups of homeless camps throughout March. What used to be massive homeless encampments off the 710 freeway are now gone, for example.
“I watched a parade of people in shopping carts crossing the L.A. River bridge with all their stuff,” said Reverend Kit Wilke, Vice President of the Long Beach Area Coalition for the Homeless. “It’s one of the things that tends to happen every year just before the Grand Prix,” he said.
At the time of this writing, Long Beach Police Department had not yet responded to emails asking if there had been an increase in enforcement for the Grand Prix. However Ed Kamlan, Public Information Officer for the City Manager, said he was “not aware of any increase in enforcement.”
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