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Park Board to vacate 3 encampments, citing safety risks

The Park Board said it's already vacated encampments at Elliot and Kenwood parks.
Kenwood Park

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is removing multiple homeless encampments from parks, citing crime as the reason.

The park board announced Wednesday that it had given notices to vacate earlier this week to those living in 12 tents in Peavey Park, 12 tents at Elliot Park and 14 tents at Kenwood Park. The Elliot and Kenwood encampments were cleared on Wednesday.

The board cited “significant crime and safety incidents” in its announcement, including assaults. The Park Board says that 35 rounds were fired at Peavey Park on Tuesday evening alone, though no injuries were reported, per the Star Tribune.

The encampments at Peavey and Kenwood are located in safe school zones, which is prohibited under a recent park board resolution. The resolution also limited the number of parks with encampments in the city to 20 and capped the number of tents at parks to 25.

Under the resolution, the park board’s superintendent can also close encampments that pose documented health and safety risks.

“Our priorities are to address those sites with documented crimes, reduce the number of parks down to no more than 20, and get permits issued for temporary encampments that currently don’t have one,” said Superintendent Al Bangoura in a statement. 

"The priority for our state needs to be additional funding for our city and county partners so they can immediately increase available shelter and housing for those experiencing homelessness.”

But local activists at Peavey Plaza took to social media to criticize the park board’s decision and ask for help in defending the encampment, to the point that the tents were unable to be removed on Wednesday evening.

"There are NO permanent solutions to demands for dignified housing from people staying at the encampments across the city," the nonprofit Parks and Power wrote on Twitter. “Housing is a human right. A lot of these municipal agencies, regardless of whether it is in their job description, clearly don't believe that." 

Last month, the park board began taking steps to limit the size of the encampments at Powderhorn Park, which are down to 35 tents from 560. 

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