Arroyo Seco Homeless Dust-Up Continues Into Second Week

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Police officers from LAPD Security Services Division and representatives from the Bureau of Sanitation were present today just off the Marmion Way exit of the Arroyo Seco Parkway. They were there to continue the removal process of dozens of homeless persons living in encampments alongside the Arroyo. LA1 News arrived just in time to witness the removal of John Shoemaker and his girlfriend from their campsite. We asked Senior Lead Officer Phil Graciano from Security Services exactly what was going on. "Basically we are here to complete a process that began over a month ago," he said. "We cannot just come in and remove people with no warning. We can warn you twice, but by the third time we are able to cite or physically remove people from the area."

Graciano says Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority officials began the process weeks in advance by canvassing the area, marking each spot with GPS coordinates and relevant informational data, before returning later to offer options to the homeless other than their current situation. John Shoemaker was sitting just down the way among his belongings and his pet cat while Graciano spoke. "I have known John for a long time," Graciano said, adding, "We came in here and we treated everyone with respect." Asked why the homeless were being thrown out here while encampments alongside the Parkway near Avenue 26 were still standing, Graciano said the others would be sure to follow. "Eventually we will get to them all," he said. Asked where people who don't use the services might go, he said, "It used to be illegal to live inside a vehicle in the City of Los Angeles but just recently that was overturned, so technically people can still live in their car on the side of the road."

Walking up the hill to talk to Shoemaker next, LA1 News was presented with a different opinion of what is going on. "I know Graciano really well," Shoemaker said. "The last time he came in here a few weeks ago he was anything but courteous and professional. He told me off and threw all of my girlfriend's paintings into the bulldozer," Shoemaker says. "Those paintings meant everything to her." Asked where he and his girlfriend are going next, Shoemaker said, "I'm going to my storage unit first. Then I will find a spot a little closer to Pasadena where my girlfriend's kids live." Shoemaker says the choice to not enroll in a City homeless program is a no-brainer. "They require you to state that you are either on drugs or mentally unstable," he says. "That is the only way you can get in. They require you to admit you are either on drugs or crazy so they can justify controlling your life. Some of us are just down on our luck, and that's all."

Shoemaker was asked for a sentence or two which might explain his reasoning for why the dust-up is happening right now. He said, "Honestly, I think it has to do with the prostitution." Caught off guard, we asked for further explanation. "Oh, there is gay and straight prostitution going on right here almost every day beginning at 5pm," he said. "And by the value of the cars parked in order to participate, I would say the Johns are either politically connected or the cops are in on it, because nobody ever does anything to stop it."

Citing his frustration with the uneven application of justice in his opinion, Shoemaker said, "You remember the guy who was shot and killed down here in the homeless camps a few months ago? I was right here when it happened. It was all because the guy was playing his radio too loud. And there was more than one gun used. I heard shots from one gun then separate shots from another. It took the ambulance 10 minutes to arrive after the 911 call was made. What kind of justice is that?"

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