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Oct 1, 22

Community Rallies Against Police and “Green Team” Sweep of Encampment in Humboldt County, CA

Report on recent resistance to encampment sweeps in so-called Eureka, California.

On Saturday, September 24th, Eureka California’s largest encampment of unhoused people was evicted under threat of arrest. The encampment was home to upwards of 70 people, most of whom had already been repeatedly swept from other camps throughout the city. In a haphazard attempt at greenwashing, the sweep was billed as a “family friendly” cleanup by Pac Out Green Team, a local environmental cleanup organization which acted in coordination with the Eureka Police Department.

The event was advertised on social media as a “90 minute trash bash.” We find this gamification of displacement both disturbing and pathetically transparent. In the days before the sweep a group of unhoused community members living at the encampment held an assembly where they called for outside support to resist the eviction. The message from those inside the camp was clear: “there is nowhere else to go.”

Source: Pac Out Green Team on Facebook

Quickly, a network of housed and unhoused people called for a demonstration against the sweep through social media. On the night of the 23rd, two banners opposing the eviction were dropped in Eureka and neighboring Arcata. On the morning of the 24th, around 30 people showed up to the encampment. Before the arrival of the police and their non-profit friends, participants in the Stop The Sweeps movement offered rides and assistance to those still living at the camp. When the cops and volunteers eventually showed they were met by a rowdy crowd, who refused to let the eviction be swept under the rug or sanitized by environmental concern.

Local police collaborator and cleanup-profiteer, John Shelter, who has been contracted to keep the site free of “illegal camps,” was forced to leave early after repeatedly being called out by name and taunted by the crowd. While Eureka’s soon to be mayor Kim Bergel offered nothing but crocodile tears as she threw away the belongings of former residents. The same police who routinely slash tents and steal peoples shit, were overheard jokingly suggesting bear traps as a deterrent to keep the camp unoccupied and repeatedly lied to the media that they have offered sufficient resources to the people they displace. It’s also well known that the two shelters in Eureka are inhumane and insufficient.

It’s clear we have shaken the city, who’s officials expect these sweeps to go off without a hitch. Although the sweep was carried out, there is a growing culture of resistance in Humboldt county, a culture built alongside the already latent resistance of unhoused people. We understand that here on the North Coast there is no legal recourse for people living outdoors, that the lines of enclosure which lead to sweeps are all too easily traced to their colonial origins. To say “stop the sweeps” is to challenge the condition which necessitates eviction: private property.

We are not organizers, leaders or “advocates,” we are a loose and decentralized network offering skills, tactics and resources; operating within an autonomous movement. As the the winter months begin to take hold, we know the police and their collaborators will only continue their campaign of displacement. We urge others in our region to take action against the upcoming sweeps, be creative, bold and act with consideration and love to those facing the everyday violence of displacement.

Stop The Sweeps Humboldt

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