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Kalamazoo to disperse homeless encampment Tuesday

Jacob Enos
Creative Commons

The city of Kalamazoo says it will disperse a group of homeless protesterswho'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.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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