[Hpn] ALERT: Police evict HOMELESS CAMP in Hagerstown MD USA fw

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sat, 11 Nov 2000 22:57:36 -0800 (PST)

CIRCULATE please to people who can help the evicted

If _some_ community members create problems, should _all_ of the
community be punished?  Why or why not?  Are there other options?

FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service = Nov 10, 2000


HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) _ The homeless people who have settled into
a wooded area on CSX property in Hagerstown call their home
Valhalla, a Norse heaven where the souls of slain warriors were

But Hagerstown's Valhalla is no paradise.

While many of the homeless people are peaceful, some have turned
to violence fueled by alcohol and drugs. Within the past 45 days, a
homeless man was stabbed, another was almost set on fire and tents
have been burned.

Hagerstown police are now vowing to keep vagrants off the

No one is sure when the homeless began staying on CSX property,
but the recent acts of violence have brought the vagrants to the
attention of the authorities, said police Lt. Jack Hall.

``Typically it's out of sight out of mind _ you don't know it's
a problem until it's a problem,'' said Hall.

City and CSX police officers met Thursday to discuss the

Hall said CSX workers will clean up the property by removing
trash and supplies from campsites and by posting ``No Trespassing''
signs. Police will then enforce the ban on trespassing, he said.

CSX spokesman Robert Gould said in a phone interview Thursday
that ``the city and CSX agree there is a problem.''

CSX will get cost estimates and ``make a good-faith effort to
clean up the property,'' he said.

A light rain fell Thursday afternoon as police took reporters
down a graveled road and across a narrow bridge to the campsite.
The road was strewn with broken glass and a few large logs.

``They probably put those out there to keep us out,'' Hall said
as he removed the logs from the road.

The largest campsite was in a gully protected by a canopy of
trees. Police found as many as 12 tents on the site in September.

There were no homeless men around, but the odor of what Hall
said was an inhalant used by some vagrants to get high lingered in
the air.

Hanging from the trees were a variety of items _ old sneakers,
blue jeans, filthy blankets, teddy bears and other stuffed animals,
shirts and grapefruit-sized pumpkin decorations. A bag of potatoes
dangled from one limb.

Empty liquor and soda bottles dotted the ground. Charred chairs,
a bike, a bed, cooking supplies and other items were evidence of a
recent fire that the Hagerstown Fire Department determined was
arson, Hall said.

The camps' occupants are primarily men, Hall said. He described
them as poor, anti-social, perhaps mentally ill or substance

Hall said he expects the vagrants will move when they realize
they will be arrested and have their tents and supplies confiscated
by police.

``It's not against the law to be homeless. But it is, if they
are creating a problem on private property,'' he said.

AP-ES-11-10-00 1243EST
Received  Id AP100315FA02ABA8 on Nov 11 2000 10:44


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