Washington DOT calls law enforcement presence at Camp Hope 'disappointing and harmful'
Camp Hope fliers

Source: Google News

Camp Hope fliers
Copyright: 4 News Now

SPOKANE, Wash – The Washington Department of Transportation said the presence of Spokane law enforcement at a homeless camp Tuesday was “unnecessary, confusing and harmful to residents living there.”

Tuesday, Spokane Police and Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies came into the large camp just north of Interstate 90 in East Spokane, handing out fliers and saying the camp is going to close.

It didn’t include any closure date and this was not a “sweep” of the camp.

Washington Department of Transportation, which owns the land where hundreds of people have been camping for a year, said the action was “disappointing and harmful.”

WSDOT says plans are already underway to close Camp Hope and move people into “substantially better housing.”

The agency says “there simply isn’t enough shelter/housing available in Spokane to accommodate the now 416 people at Camp Hope.”

The state and service providers at the camp said law enforcement showed up Tuesday with no prior notice.

“The use of scare tactics and arbitrary closure notices with incorrect information hinder the process already underway to close Camp Hope safely and humanely,” the state said. “And it increases the risk that encampment residents will instead choose to disperse to new sites within the city.”

The statement from WSDOT came Wednesday afternoon, just as a source notified 4 News Now that law enforcement was again preparing to enter the camp.

This time, it appears the state and service providers were notified ahead of time that law enforcement would be coming to the camp.

The state has been at odds with the City of Spokane and Spokane County about the handling of the camp for months.

In September, lame duck Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich vowed to clear the camp by mid-October.

That deadline was changed several times, as the county and city stood up the Emergency Operations Center to coordinate efforts.