Kalamazoo to disperse homeless encampment Tuesday
The city of Kalamazoo says it will disperse a group of homeless protesters who've been occupying a downtown park, starting Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m.
The protest began a month ago. Homeless people and advocates pitched tents at Kalamazoo's popular Bronson Park. Their demands included better options for both temporary shelter and long term housing.
The protest began after the city commission began considering an ordinance that would lessen the penalty for sleeping in a city park at night, from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction. But members of the group said the city has for too long made being homeless a criminal offense, while not doing enough to find solutions.
City officials have been holding meetings with the group, and attempting to reach an agreement, but the encampment has only grown in size. City Manager Jim Ritsema says camping at the park is not safe or sanitary and the protesters are keeping other residents and visitors from using the park.
He says if necessary, police will arrest those who refuse to leave.