Media Watch: LA homeless encampment evicted - objective

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 29 May 1999 20:43:15 -0700 (PDT)


Every fact in the article below may be accurate, but do you think it's
objective reporting?  What about the reporter's "frame", her choice of
which facts to present?

Would most readers be comfrotable leaving among or near the homeless people
as described below?

If the article were an argument, would it be a "justification" to evict
homeless squatters -- or let them stay?

http://www.latimes.com/excite/990526/tCB0043508.html
FWD  Los Angeles Times - Wednesday, May 26, 1999

     `JURASSIC PARK' EXTINCT

     Crews clear out one of area's
     most established homeless encampments.

     By CLAUDIA PESCHIUTTA

SUNLAND -- Besides a few scurrying rats, one of the area's oldest homeless
encampments now lies empty.

The trail leading up to "Jurassic Park," a wooded refuge in the hills above
the Foothill (210) Freeway, is no longer marked by footsteps but by the
tread of a bulldozer.

A small crew Monday began tearing down the shacks and clearing out the
camp, so named by its residents, who call themselves "old dinosaurs."

Jurassic Park residents said police told them they had until May 7 to leave
the camp, which is built on private property.

But Sgt. Bob Kirk, of the Los Angeles Police Department's Foothill
Division, said earlier this month an immediate sweep was not planned and
that he did not know clearing would begin Monday.

"I didn't realize the property owner was going to go out as soon as she
did, but that's her prerogative," Kirk said Tuesday.

The sweep came on the heels of a Leader article published May 8 and a Los
Angeles Times article published Saturday about Jurassic Park and other
homeless encampments in Sunland-Tujunga.

The property owner could not be reached for comment.

Jurassic Park is one of the largest homeless encampments in Sunland-Tujunga
recently targeted for removal by an informal committee of city, fire and
police officials seeking to reduce the fire hazard in the brush-filled
foothills.

The movement was also sparked, police say, by an increase in transient
crime in the area.

Several social service agencies have been providing outreach to Jurassic
Park and other camps in an effort to relocate the homeless before the
tentative removal date of July 1.

Hazard abatement contractor Ray Byers, of Ray Byers and Co. in Castaic,
said the encampment posed a serious liability to the property owner, who
would be responsible for any blaze ignited on the site, located in a high
fire hazard area.

"There are fire pits all over. It's an accident waiting to happen," Byers said.

But those who once made a home of Jurassic Park, say they were careful when
making fires, keeping extinguishers and water nearby.

As workers filled a dump truck Monday with debris from the fallen shacks,
makeshift kitchen and outdoor "living room," a former camp resident came in
search of a pair of tennis shoes and a bag of medication he said he
desperately needed to treat a psychological condition.

"We have to be somewhere," said the man, who gave his name only as "Doc."

Sweating and shaking, Doc began rummaging through a pile of debris. The
workers watched silently as he put on his shoes and picked pills off the
ground, throwing them into a blue gym bag, along with a few pornographic
magazines.

"Just destroy. That's your job. It doesn't matter what you destroy, even if
it's somebody's life. You've destroyed my life," Doc said.

Camp residents were given more than two weeks to move out, Byers said.

"We're not heartless. Giving them time to make other arrangements is only
fair," he said.

Byers expected to fill two 50-yard Dumpsters with all the debris, some of
which he said included piles of bottles, human feces and drug paraphernalia.

"This mess is costing the property owner a lot of money," he said.

"No property owner should have to encounter a mess like this."

When asked Monday where he would go, Doc said he didn't know, but recoiled
at the idea of being placed in a shelter, which he said is dirty and
dangerous.

"Come the first dark night, I would be a statistic," he said.

As he waited for Doc to leave the camp, Byers apologized to the man, saying
he thought everyone had already left the camp.

"Sometimes I wish my priorities were more simple," he said.

HELP FOR THE HOMELESS
Connections Day.
* WHEN: Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
* WHERE: Finn Park, 7747 Foothill Blvd. in Tujunga.
* INFO: Several agencies will be offering medical attention, shelter
placement and other referral services. Free meals will also be provided.
* GETTING THERE: Free transportation will be available all day from Sunland
Park, at 8651 Foothill Blvd. Rides can also be arranged on the day of the
event by calling 929-3948.
* CALL: For more information, call 890-4034.

END FORWARD


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