NYPD Business Improvement Officers Dismantle Homeless Camp at Memorial to Dead Resident

On Monday morning, a dozen people gathered to pay tribute to a small homeless camp near Tompkins Square Park in East Village, Manhattan. Jose Hernandezknown to the community as Joe, a neighbor of the camp who had died a few days earlier.

A group of residents, activists and other members of the community lit candles, hung flowers and wrote a loving message to Hernandez in preparation for the service, which was attended by about a dozen New York City Police Department agents and a few City Department Sanitation staff. a lonely tent in the camp standing and a pile of objects sitting a few feet away.

Sadly they knew why the city was coming: Ever since Mayor Eric Adams carried out the “clean-ups” of the homeless camps, known as the sweeping toilet in the toilet, earlier this year city workers appeared to dismantle the camp. almost 10 timesthrowing up neighborhood shops and things and sometimes arresting community members protesting the forced relocation.

These sweeps are part of Adams ’efforts to force people sleeping on the streets to accept city services, such as homeless shelters and safe havens. But many, including those in this East Village camp that has been named Anarchy Row, have bad experiences in such facilities, which they consider prison and dangerous. They refuse to use the services of the council if they do not have access to a private room, without cuts or on the way to permanent housing, which is often not provided by the city. So the city comes, to the same camps again and againoften neighbors throw things in the trash.

Among the police officers who arrived on Monday morning were those assigned to the local district, as well several members of the new “Business Improvement Implementation Team,” the NYPD silently deployed a unit in March homeless cops and quality of life crimes in Manhattan shopping malls. According to the New York Postthe department formed a team of approximately 30 officers after Midtown companies complained of “deteriorating conditions” in their areas, and responded directly to complaints from neighborhood and community councils to improve business.

When police approached the camp, members of the community asked them to continue the search. “Can you wait until the memorial is finished?” someone asked Sergeant Michael Fox of the Ninth District.

“You can go there and take care of the memorial; I’m in the middle of doing something, “Fox said. “You are obstructing my police investigation. Inflate your candles and things and put them there. ‘

Sanitation workers then dumped the store and things in a garbage truck, and community members accused the police of interrupting what they hoped would be a peaceful service. “I’m not interrupting anything,” Fox replied. “You’re interrupting me.”

“Can you show some respect for the monument?” someone asked. “When you show us respect, we show respect,” Fox said.

While the sanitation workers continued to search, some members of the community shouted at the police, some recorded on their mobile phones, others hugged each other and some cried.

Asked about the incident, the NYPD sent the following statement by e-mail: “These are multi-agency operations. The removal was far from a memorial. The memorial was not disturbed. The main role of the NYPD is to ensure the safety of all involved.”

Friends of Jose Hernandez, who died earlier in the day, are being hugged by police and sanitation workers while interrupting his memorial, often sleeping to dismantle the camp. | Chris Gelardi / New York Focus

Hernandez’s partner, who asked to be identified as Emily, fled the scene when police arrived. When he was caught by the New York Focus later, he was with him and Hernandez’s friend, mourning on a park bench.

“I loved it so much,” he said. “He was a great man.” He said they had been together for six years.

Emily said she was with Hernandez when she was 71 when she started coughing at the end of last week. He complained to the police, who took him to the hospital, but he died shortly afterwards. He believes he had liver failure, but Hernandez said he was cremated before he got any information.

“I miss him wholeheartedly,” he said. “He helped a lot of people, myself included. We helped each other. ”

A member of the community, on the right, consoles Jose Hernandez’s partner in front of a souvenir in his honor. | Chris Gelardi / New York Focus

After police and sanitation staff cleared the camp, members of the community resumed the memorial. Like Emily, Hernandez’s friends talked about her generosity.

“When he had this, you never needed it,” said Johnny Grima, a camp neighbor. “If he had cigarettes, you had cigarettes; if he had food, if you had it. ‘

Grima has been at the center of many Anarchy Row sweeps, content be arrested Several times Police and sanitation showed up for leaving his shop. Hernandez spoke as a partner in that fight. “We spent the cold days together here,” he said. “It simply came to our notice then. The police were just as scared as the rest of us. ‘

“They have so many empty apartments that one could have been given to them before they died,” Grima said. “It simply came to our notice then. He and his wife and everyone else don’t deserve this. We don’t want this to happen to poor people. ”

“We need to take care of the people who live in this situation, and improve it – with social services and staff that will provide you with affordable housing,” said a woman named Gloria, who applauded.

Johnny Grima, on the left, sits and burns while a New York City Department of Sanitation employee sweeps a camp near Tompkins Square Park on June 13th. Chris Gelardi / New York Focus

“He was a good person, with a good heart,” said Gloria Hernandez, whom she had met for four years. Speaking about the sweep, he called Mayor Adams, “Would he do that? his family? If his family were away, would he? No. ”

In fact, instead of encouraging people to accept services, ongoing searches have a profound effect on the well-being of camp residents, according to community members.

“It’s very clear to see people at Anarchy Row and other camps being put under a lot of stress by the sweeps,” said Judith Haider, who provides support to the camp’s residents and organizes mutual support efforts. He said the stress of bullying, forced relocation and loss of personal belongings could lead to health crises – like Hernandez’s – worsening mental health, drug and alcohol abuse and other problems.

“This spreads to any small crack in someone’s support system,” he said.

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