MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Residents of unauthorized homeless encampments in three Minneapolis parks have been told this week to leave immediately, according to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
The parks were singled out due to crime, and because they weren't among those granted temporary encampment permits.
Twelve tents at both Peavey Park and Elliot Park were served notices Monday, and 14 tents were served Tuesday at Kenwood Park. MPRB officials say most residents at Kenwood and Peavey had already left the encampments. The remaining Elliot Park residents were transported, along with their belongings, to the authorized encampment at Franklin Steele Park.
Assaults and other crimes have been documented in all three parks, including an Aug. 11 incident where 35 rounds were fired in Peavey Park. No one was injured. Kenwood and Peavey were also ineligible to allow dwellings because of their proximities to schools.
Once the parks are completely cleared, crews will clean them up and search for and remove biohazardous materials and needles.
Minnesota lawmakers passed the emergency Executive Order 20-55 after the start of the COVID-19 crisis in March to protect people experiencing homelessness from being removed from parks unless there were documented threats to public safety. The MPRB then announced in mid-June that parks will be opened to provide refuge.
Hundreds of homeless people had been living inside the former Sheraton hotel near the Midtown Global Market off Lake Street and Chicago Avenue beginning in late May during the unrest following the death of George Floyd.
Police forced them out on June 10, and many migrated to nearby city parks, with the majority setting up tents in Powderhorn Park, located about two blocks south of the former hotel.
After weeks of complaints by neighbors concerning crime and the staggering number of inhabitants, the MPRB passed a resolution in mid-July that capped the number of tents in designated parks to 25. The resolution also gave power to the board's superintendent, Al Bangoura, to immediately close down encampments due to public safety issues.
More than 500 tents have been removed in the past three weeks at the park. Notices have been served to the remaining residents to leave amid on-going crime concerns, and the park's proximity to a school.
There are currently four designated parks for temporary encampments, but there are several other parks that still have unauthorized residents.
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