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Police raid leaves homeless reeling

August 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A homeless camp in Big Tujunga Wash beneath the 210 Freeway in Sunland has been the target of police sweeps over the last several weeks, leaving dozens of homeless men and women with nowhere to turn.Police said that they raided the camp because of numerous complaints from neighboring residents and businesses about illegal drug use, drinking, gangs and shootings in the camp.

Duffy Perry, a man whose makeshift encampment had been destroyed by police, argued that many of the people who lived in the wash were harmless.

"If they could be a little more respectful ," he said. "There are people out here in the streets that are homeless, that don't mean no harm. They're not out doing crime. They're not bothering the public."

Some neighbors said they had nothing against the homeless but they didn't appreciate the crime and trouble the camp brought to the neighborhood.

Pattee Colban, a homeless advocate who formerly lived in the camp herself, said destroying the only haven for homeless people in the area would have other repercussions for the public.

"You're taking everything that belongs to them - and then where are they going to?" she asked. "They're going to go into your local park, they're going to up and sit in front of your businesses."

Police officials said that when they went to dismantle the camp they did offer assistance to the homeless people living there and have brought social workers to help them in the past.