LA to clear homeless encampments in Little Tokyo, sparking mixed reactions within the community

Marc Cota-Robles Image
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
Los Angeles to clear homeless encampments in Little Tokyo
Another one of Los Angeles's big homeless encampments is about to be cleared.

LITTLE TOKYO, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Another one of Los Angeles's big homeless encampments is about to be cleared.

The decision to remove the camp in Little Tokyo has both strong support and strong opposition.

The encampment in the shadows of L.A City Hall has grown dramatically through the pandemic. Two days before they're supposed to be gone, dozens seem to be in no hurry to leave.

The group J-Town Action & Solidarity opposes the cleanup. The group led a protest against the removal of unhoused individuals from Little Tokyo's Toriumi Plaza.

"We've been fighting for the right to housing, fighting for their right to human dignity and human rights," Steven Chun of J-Town Action & Solidarity said.

L.A. city councilman Kevin de Leon's office says the city is attempting to address crime in the area while working on getting people housed. They've done so successfully for 80 people over the past month.

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A woman, who goes by Halo, has been on the streets for 15 years.

"We are trying to change and be positive people in life and society," Halo said.

Brian Kito is not only the president of the Little Tokyo Public Safety Association, he also owns the oldest business in the area, the Fugetsu-Do Confectionery. He, like most business owners, are grateful, ready to get rid of the fights, needles and broken windows.

"The last two years with the encampment has created a lot of havoc down here," Kito said. "My employees used to go there on a nice spring day to have lunch and now you don't even want to walk by that place."

The cleanup is similar to efforts that have happened in Echo Park and MacArthur Park.

De León's office says no level of force will be used, but on Thursday, fencing will go up around Toriumi Plaza, which is Department of Transportation property. Eventually, a permanent fence will go up, allowing the location to be open during daytime hours only.

J-Town Action doesn't like anything the city is doing.

"You talk to the unhoused people out here throughout L.A. and they will tell you the housing actually makes them feel like prisoners, makes them feel like animals in cages, and it's just not right," Chun said.