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On Earth Day, Volunteers Plan To Clean Up Oakland Homeless Camp

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- The city of Oakland ordered homeless individuals staying in a big camp to be gone by Friday or face eviction. On Friday evening, they were still there.

We learned Public Works crews have refused to help evict the homeless and clean the area up without police protection. But Oakland Police Department says they don't have the officers to help with this. So the camp stays.

City work crews tell us that as much as they'd like to help clean up the trash at the site, they can't. They say it's just too dangerous.

There are a lot of piles of trash near homeless encampments in Oakland, with some of the debris scattered throughout the campsites, and some blocking the sidewalks.

East Oakland councilman Noel Gallo and a bunch of volunteers were planning to haul all the trash out on Earth Day, on Saturday, with the help of Public Works.

But late this week, the agency said they can't send their people and trucks out. Gallo says the city workers feel unsafe without police presence.

Gallo said, "My understanding is it's a directive city wide. So no homeless encampments, they're not going to go near it."

The union representing the workers confirms the employees raised safety concerns. They plan to release more information next week.

It's unclear why Public Works wasn't able to line up officers for this weekend's cleanup or other cleanups... but the police department has been under staffed for years, though the police are still quick to respond to emergencies.

One homeless man told us the workers have nothing to fear. In fact, they've even offered to help out.

Dennis Mix resides at a homeless camp and told us, "We'll help clean this park up. All we need is a dumpster."

Since Public Works and the large city trucks won't be coming out this weekend, Gallo and volunteers plan to use their own pickup trucks to haul the trash away.

Gallo says they're only picking up trash, not trying to clear out the homeless.

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