Hank Sims / @ 8:22 a.m. / Homelessness, Local Government

MARSH EVICTIONS: 44 Tons of Trash Collected, One Arrest Made, Some Campers Remain (for Tonight)


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UPDATE, 4:23 p.m.: 44 tons of trash collected, one arrest made, some campers remain

The Eureka Police Department is winding down its operations for today. Apart from the trash collected, three full Conex containers have been filled with people’s personal belongings, and will be stored.

Some camps on the northern end of the Marsh — at least some of which are associated with the Marsh 11 litigants who were offered special protection in federal court last week — remain standing. At the EPD’s press conference, Police Chief Andy Mills said that all remaining campers have places to stay and had better be gone by the time the sun rises tomorrow.

“Anyone out there tomorrow morning goes to jail. Period. End of story,” Mills said.

Only one arrest was made today, according to police, and that was not of a camper but of a woman, depicted below, who refused to leave the parking lot command center.

The Outpost’s Andrew Goff says that city officials say that they have collected over 1,000 needles during the cleanup, filling about 11 of the biohazard containers pictured below.

Photo: Andrew Goff.

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 3:35 p.m.:

Tents marked “XD” have been determined to be abandoned. Dump trucks will soon come through and clean these sites out.

Photos: John Ross Ferrara

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 3:07 p.m.:

 

EPD Public Information Officer Brittany Powell.

 

The marsh encampments were divided into three sectors for the purposes of today’s operation. Phases One and Two are now completely cleared, says EPD public information officer Brittany Powell, and the third should be finished by the end of the day.

The cleanup is actually a cleanup. Here is an “after” video from the Outpost’s Andrew Goff, which walks the viewer through the general area pictured far below, in the photos from 9:48 a.m. and earlier.

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 2:57 p.m.: Some of the Marsh 11 holding out, for the time being

At a camp belonging to a member of the Marsh 11. Photos: Andrew Goff.

The Outpost’s Andrew Goff says:

Amber Bennett, an attorney with the offices of Peter Martin, is down here assisting the remaining campers. Three of the eleven plaintiffs named in the lawsuit are slowly packing up belongings. All have been told that Betty Chinn has space for them to stay tonight, but it’s not clear yet that they will leave. Bennett says she is here to ensure that police do not arrest anyone they aren’t supposed to or take anything they shouldn’t.

All of these people are gathered in the north end of the marsh, which is the last place scheduled for cleanup.

The woman at left, a Marsh 11er, says she has a place to stay elsewhere.

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 2:12 p.m.:

 

Photo: Andrew Goff.

 

Police diverted to a green area behind the Six Rivers National Forest headquarters building, near the mall, a few moments ago, on report that marsh refugees were attempting to build a new camp there.

Capt. Brian Stephens and a few other officers went to check it out; Stephens reports that the people were just hanging out in the area waiting for their ride, and had no intention of setting up shop.

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 1:54 p.m.: HASHTAG DISGUSTING

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 1:06 p.m.: Councilmember Kim Bergel praises conduct of police, marsh residents

Eureka City Councilmember Kim Bergel, who has put in as many hours as anyone working with the Palco Marsh community, had high praise for all involved when the Outpost’s Andrew Goff caught up to her today.

“I believe it was handled very well,” the Councilmember said. “I’m grateful that people who are living out here were willing to comply. They’ve been really good. It’s been very peaceful. The police and the people who have been working with the folks are doing a fabulous job. I’m very grateful.”

Full audio below:

Bergel (audio)

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 12:59 p.m.: The Trash Mound

The trash piles up. Oliver Cory caught some footage of a frontloader doing its thing at what seems like a rather high rate of speed:

Meanwhile, John Ross Ferrara is tracking the county SWAP workers, who seem to be carrying a sharps container at the moment, and is handling discarded needles:

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 12:23 p.m.:

Photo: Oliver Cory.

Officers are back from lunch and back out into the marsh. Oliver Cory came upon one man who was put in handcuffs and checked for weapons momentarily. The handcuffs were since removed, and he is being questioned by Sgt. Travis Braud.

The Outpost’s Andrew Goff tells us that there are very few campers left — only the ones who need special care, presumably.

Video: Andrew Goff.

Video: Oliver Cory.

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 11:44 a.m.: The Vagabus arrives!

Photo: John Ross Ferrara.

Surprise! The Vagabus, which was seen headed south toward Tierra del Fuego, flipped a U-ie and came back into town specifically to be on-hand for the marsh evictions.

Vagabus chieftan Steven Boutwell told the Outpost’s John Ross Ferrara that they came back to town to offer their assistance to the houseless, whatever that assistance turns out to be. Like others before him, Boutwell took a moment to doubt whether this eviction will be as permanent as the city supposes.

Full audio of Ferrara’s talk with Boutwell below. Sorry — the wind was in the mic, here:

audio

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 11:12 a.m.: Police Chief Andy Mills, other city officials hold press conference

Mills, with Eureka City Councilmember Linda Atkins in the background. Photo: Oliver Cory.

A few minutes ago, Eureka City Manager Greg Sparks and EPD Chief Andy Mills held a press conference at the Palco Marsh command post to talk about the progress of the operation thus far.

Sparks said that seven of the 11 people who sued the city over their expulsion from the marsh have been identified and rehoused at the Containerville site. They’re attempting to find the other four and identify their housing needs.

Full press conference video below.

Police officers are now sitting down for lunch.

 

Photo: Andrew Goff.

 

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 10:53 a.m.:

A press conference is schedule for 11 a.m. to update media people present on the state of the operation. Meanwhile, everything seems to be progressing more or less smoothly, from the police department’s perspective.

Says Andrew Goff:

To sum up, officers, city workers and SWAP are going to camp to camp, binning up, labeling and storing items that seem salvageable. Everything else is going into this front loader that is being dumped in the dumpster.

There are significantly fewer residents now than there were earlier this morning.

Photo: Oliver Cory.


 

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 10:43 a.m.: Interview with Betty Chinn

Tireless homeless advocate Betty Chinn tells the Outpost‘s Andrew Goff that she was very worried about this morning’s operations, but after spending time on the scene she feels “hugely relieved.” The Eureka Police Department, she said, is handling things “really, really well.” 

As for the availability of housing, Chinn said that there are enough beds for everyone who wants to go. “I love this community,” she said. Here’s the full interview:

Chinn interview

— Ryan Burns

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UPDATE, 10:45 a.m.: The N-word is a word we’re hearing a lot today

One way in which Palco Marsh camp life is — or was — different than life outside the camp is the remarkable prevalence of the word “nigger,” seemingly as an all-purpose putdown unconnected to race, and often screamed at full volume.

With tension high in the marsh this morning, our three reporters on scene have heard the n-word flying around through the trees and grass at a clip you would have thought unfathomable, here in the 21st century. “Fucking nigger, get the fuck out of here!” was an early one.

Says Oliver Cory:

A woman was yelling this while she searched through a dumpster. “If anyone hears ‘Bad to the Bone’ playing, that’s my phone. I’m missing it … I fucking hate this place … That’s a N****r move, man.”

She said she was pissed that someone would steal her phone on her “last fucking day out here.”

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 10:14 a.m.: An evicted camper talks about her experience

“Amber,” a woman who has been staying in the marsh for the last two months, got tearful when asked about her experience with the police this morning — courteous but firm, she said — and about how she became homeless and what she’ll be doing next.

Amber said she was confident that people will move back into the marsh, sooner or later. Police can’t hold it forever, she insisted, and people will naturally return to what they know.

She said that she and her daughter will be moving into the container village today. She’s not looking forward to it.

OUTPOST: What do you feel like you’re losing today?

AMBER: Community. 

Full audio below. She’s the woman in the pink sweater in the update at 9:16 a.m.:

audio

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 9:58 a.m.: Map of the game plan; inmates pitch in with the cleanup

Command post map. Photo: Andrew Goff.

A map posted at the EPD’s command center lays out the order of operations today: They’re going through the marsh sector by sector, clearing one before moving on to the next. 

Things are in the cleanup phase in the first sector police moved on today. Inmates from the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program are assisting officers in clearing garbage left over from the cleared camps.

Photo: John Ross Ferrara.

Photo: Oliver Cory.

Officer wheels stuff to be stored to the onsite Conex container stuff-storage facility. Photo: Oliver Cory.


 

 

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 9:46 a.m.: The cleanup commences; one arrested

Photo: Oliver Cory

Personnel on the scene are gathering up the wide variety of materials seen above and loading it into Conex containers.

An officer could be heard on the scanner calling for more disposal containers for hypodermic needles. “Folks, we’re gonna need more Sharps containers,” he said. “Like, a lot more.”

Meanwhile, one woman was placed under arrest and processed at the scene for refusing to leave the command area:

Photo: AG

— Ryan Burns

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UPDATE, 9:35 a.m.: How the residents’ stuff is being stored

Photo: Andrew Goff.

EPD Sgt. Travis Braud tells the Outpost’s Andrew Goff that police are using GPS locators to document where each camp is dissembled, and they’re photographing the camps. The items taken from each campsite, Braud says, will be assigned a case number. They will be stored for 90 days in a Conex container for anybody who wants to come get their things.

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 9:26 a.m.: Betty Chinn at the scene

Photo: Oliver Cory

Betty Chinn, who feeds and houses countless local homeless people, is at the site, flitting from camp to camp. Above, Oliver Cory catches Chinn asking a woman packing up her belongings if she is going to “come visit her.”

She spoke with the Outpost’s John Ross Ferrara:

audio

Photo: John Ross Ferrara.

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 9:16 a.m.: Police enter the marsh, gently (so far) urge campers along

Photos: Andrew Goff.

Police entered the marsh a few minutes ago. They’re currently going from tent to tent, telling people they must leave.

At one camp, pictured above and below, a woman was loading her belongings onto a plastic wagon when officers showed up. They gave her time to continue packing, and asked which items she’d like them to store for her and which ones she’d like thrown away.

 

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 8:49 a.m.: Homeless advocate Nezzie Wade on being denied press credentials

EPD Captain Steve Watson talks to Nezzie Wade, homeless advocate and member of the Human Rights Commission. Photo: Andrew Goff.

Homeless advocate Nezzie Wade — president of Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, Inc. and a member of the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission — was denied entry into the marsh. She attempted to secure a press pass as a writer for the Humboldt Edge, the monthly homelessness newspaper, but was denied.

A few moments ago she talked to the Outpost’s Andrew Goff about that, and about what she saw in the marsh earlier this morning, when she was back there talking to residents before police arrived.

audio

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 8:37 a.m.:

Photo: John Ross Ferrara.

People trying to leave through the North Forty parking lot and being turned back and told to exit through Vigo or Del Norte, says the Outpost’s Andrew Goff. Homeless advocate Nezzie Wade is being denied entry into the marsh area.

Photo: John Ross Ferrara.

— Hank Sims

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UPDATE, 8:33 a.m.: Overviews of the operation

Video by Oliver Cory

Video by Andrew Goff

Chief Mills zooms by in some kind of offroad vehicle. Video by Oliver Cory.

— Hank Sims

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No one seems to know how this fire started, but other marsh residents have taken a break from breaking down their camps to put it out. Photo: Andrew Goff.

As of this writing things have yet to really get underway at the Palco Marsh, where upwards of 100 people will be forcibly evicted from a longstanding homeless encampment. This morning, at around 7 a.m., perhaps a dozen marsh residents were moving their camps out with baby carriages, bikes, dollies and anything else that would roll. Others walked out with the clothes on their backs.

Erich Schimps and another blue-vested member of the “Independent Observers Program,” which you may remember from tense police interactions with protestors during the timber wars, stood sentry at the entrance to the marsh on the Bayshore Mall side, in the “North 40” parking lot where today’s interagency operation will stage. No police had arrived yet, though a garbage truck pulled up and dropped off some cans.

Schimps said that he and his colleague had taken a spin through the marsh this morning, talking to people. While several people were packing up and moving out, several others they had spoken to — “Vietnam vets,” he said — were dug in.

A scuffle broke out between a man and a woman who had moved their stuff out early. The woman screamed at the man to get away from her stuff, which was loaded into a pickup truck. The man screamed back and picked up a metal baseball bat while the two screamed at one another. They backed away from each other then darted toward each other, still screaming, while the policeless parking lot watched.

“Keep doing heroin, you dumb bitch!” screamed the man, still wielding the bat.

“Fuck you, tweaker!” the woman shouted back.

Eventually the man got on a small bicycle and pedaled to a different part of the lot.

In the marsh, fires broke out. Bystanders stopped what they were doing to put out one pile of stuff that someone put the flame to. Elsewhere, at another fire, something exploded — a propane tank, it seems.

The police have now arrived. A Coast Guard helicopter is circling. The Outpost has several reporters at the scene. We’ll be updating this post throughout the day. Stay tuned.

 

Propane tank explodes in a different part of the Marsh.


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