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Riverside police allegedly raid homeless camp

October 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Some homeless people in Riverside say police officers stormed their encampment, trashed their makeshift homes and destroyed their belongings.The alleged incident happened in the Santa Ana riverbed at Van Buren Boulevard.

"I'm living in USA, I'm not living in some communist country where they can come in and do whatever they want," said one of the encampment's residents, Rebecca Truver. "That's ridiculous."

Some living in the Santa Ana riverbed arrived home last week and found their encampment allegedly destroyed by police.

"My home was destroyed, my canned goods stabbed, my tent cut up, my dog food -- it's hard enough to feed myself -- my dog food was cut, thrown all over the place," Truver said.

The officers are being accused of cutting up tents, poking holes in water supply bottles and then taking stoves and throwing them into the water, among other acts. One bike had its tires slashed.

"They cut our tires?" Truver said. "That's the way we get around to make our money. Most of the food we get is from churches, and to take one's food and throw it away, come on. There's no need for that."

The Riverside Police Department is investigating the accused officers. No witnesses have come forward.

"This is a third-party complaint and we're still waiting for someone to come forward," said Asst. Chief Chris Vicino. "If they saw something or heard something, we would like to be able to talk to them. So far, we don't have that right now."

Riverside police said it's unsafe for the homeless to be down in the riverbed. They said there's drug activity and prostitution. They also point to a shooting Sunday night.

Police also said it's against the law to trespass there, but it's also against the law for officers to destroy other people's property.

"We will investigate this and at the completion of that investigation there will be a proper and just outcome," Vicino said.


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