Letters to the Editor: Echo Park’s encampment wasn’t the hazard it was made it out to be

A man moves his belongings away from Echo Park Lake before LAPD officers evict the homeless people living there.
Charles McKnight moves his belongings along Logan Street before LAPD officers evict the homeless people in Echo Park on Thursday.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I toured the Echo Park encampment last Sunday. It impressed me as the cleanest, most organized and amicable encampment I’d seen in Los Angeles, despite some negative comments in the media. The campers seemed to be getting along with locals and vendors. (“It’s the endgame for the Echo Park homeless encampment,” March 25)

I didn’t see the damage to the park that the city appears to be using as a pretext to sweep away the encampment. It actually seemed remarkably untrammeled. In fact, when the city withheld trash containers, the residents brought in a roll-away dumpster on their own. They also built their own showers and organized a food service.

What a shame that the city shut down this self-help undertaking instead of learning from it to improve conditions for L.A.’s growing unhoused population — and for the housed residents among whom they live.


David Ewing, Venice


To the editor: As a Los Angeles resident, an L.A. County worker and an SEIU Local 721 member, I am appalled that public resources have been used to build fences, close a public park and criminalize the unhoused community and activists at Echo Park Lake, instead of using public resources to immediately build permanent, public housing with supportive services based on what unhoused residents actually want.

The unhoused people at Echo Park Lake make up an actual community that provides support and real protection from harassment. They are there for each other in ways that elected officials are not.

Ramping up police abuse and displacing L.A.’s most vulnerable community members is the complete opposite of saying Black Lives Matter, that immigrant lives matter, that LGBTQ people’s lives matter, that women and children’s lives matter.

Yuisa Alegria-Gimeno, North Hollywood, CA


To the editor: What’s happening in L.A. isn’t simply a homeless crisis brought on by high housing costs and low wages. With the influx of people from all over the state and the country who come here to camp in Los Angeles, the situation more closely resembles a refugee crisis.

The problem isn’t the police or the politics, but our failure to recognize the nature of the problem. Our society is producing its own refugees in our own country.

We must treat the issue of homelessness in L.A. similarly to successful efforts to integrate refugees into our society. I’d like to say re-integrate into society, but this homegrown refugee crisis illustrates that our country has failed many people.

We need to look at this problem differently. Echo Park Lake became a battleground, but the conflict did little to resolve anything. The issue isn’t really housing but, instead, people fleeing the society within its own borders.

The question is how do we welcome our “Made in America” refugees to the same country they are running from?

Ford Allen, Los Angeles