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Advocates condemn Adams' "violent" sweep of East Village homeless encampment

Advocates condemn "violent" sweep of East Village homeless encampment 02:54

NEW YORK -- The pushback continues against Mayor Eric Adams' sweep of homeless encampments across New York City. 

Some are upset after crews forcibly removed an encampment Wednesday in the East Village. It led to a standoff and several arrests. 

Those who were present during the sweep told CBS2's John Dias there were at least 50 police officers, but only one homeless outreach worker from the city. They said right there is a sign this is the wrong approach. 

"It was awful, it was stupid, and it was violent," said Helen Strom, director of homeless advocacy for Safety Net Project. 

Strom also said it was dehumanizing to watch homeless people and advocate in a seven-hour standoff with police and a Sanitation crew looking to clear up their encampment on an East Ninth Street sidewalk. 

"What the mayor should be doing is he should be sending out housing specialists to get people into apartments, instead of spending hundreds of thousands of tax payer money on police," she said. 

Strom said it was a total waste of resources, since the unhoused individuals refused to go to a shelter, fearing for their safety. 

"They're probably somewhere else on the street, trying to survive," she said. 

7 arrested as city workers try to clear homeless encampment in East Village 02:15

"I find this to be incredibly reactive," said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera.

Cynthia Vee was one of the four people displaced. She said it's an affordable housing issue.

"If you're living from paycheck to paycheck, you're one family problem, one illness, one crisis away from being in a tent next to mine," she told CBS2. 

Last month, the mayor ordered a crackdown, calling on agencies to remove homeless encampments across the city. The NYPD says 318 have been cleared out since. 

"We need to have wraparound services," Adams said Thursday on MSNBC. "But you have to send a clear message. It's not acceptable to have people in an inhumane condition."

Some New Yorkers said they would like to see the streets cleaned up, but said the mayor may want to rethink his approach. 

"If they're not going to the shelters, if they're not going to homes, I don't know where they're doing," said Upper West Side resident Cristina Pujlisi. 

"A lot of homeless people don't want to be in shelters, because shelters are dangerous," Bronx resident Richard Minor said. "People don't understand that. They want apartments, so do people that work."

Wednesday's standoff led to seven people getting arrested -- one homeless person and six advocates. They were charged with obstructing governmental administration. 

There will be a rally Friday afternoon to stop what advocates call "violent sweeps."

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