People who have been living in an encampment at Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis were cleared out Friday morning, according to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB).
MPRB said the remaining 35 tents in the west encampment were removed from the park "after notices to transition were served on July 31 and two weeks of MPRB outreach, transportation offers, and efforts to incrementally move those living in the remaining tents were unsuccessful," noting using law enforcement is the "last strategy."
“Park staff have been spending significant time and resources to address the influx of hundreds of unhoused people who have been living in temporary park encampments since this spring," MPRB Superintendent Al Bangoura said in a news release.
"We need safe parks for everyone and having encampments in parks creates unsafe conditions for many of those living in the parks, those visiting the parks, and those living near the parks."
Tweets from the park show what looks like a skid steer scooping up people's items and disposing of them in a garbage truck. MPRB says after people are cleared from the encampments, the sites "are cleaned, including removal of abandoned tents and search for and removal of needles and bio-hazard materials."
This summer, encampments in the park had grown to as many as 560 tents by July 9, MPRB says. The east encampments were cleared July 18-20 and notices were given to the 65 tents that remained at the west encampment and elsewhere in the park.
MPRB says there has been "significant crime and safety incidents" at the park, noting the encampments are within a safe school zone, which is not allowed per a resolution the Park Board Commissioners passed on July 15.
MPRB also cleared the encampments at Elliot Park and Kenwood Park this week following "ongoing safety concerns" and the fact that the Kenwood Park encampment was in a safe school zone.
The park board is working on implementing a resolution that directs them to reduce the number of parks with temporary encampments to no more than 20, limit the number of tents per encampment to 25 and require an encampment permit for each site. It also allows the superintendent to close encampments where there's a documented threat to people's health and safety.
The MPRB has a website dedicated to its encampment process. You can find it here.