Thursday, March 17, 2011

Police end protests over park closing

Richmond police broke up an encampment of 20 anarchists and homeless people who had camped out in Monroe Park near Virginia Commonwealth University for nine nights to bring attention to homeless issues.

Nine people were issued a summons for remaining in the park after dark, a violation of a city ordinance. Seven of them refused to identify themselves to authorities and were taken into custody and charged with obstruction of justice, a misdemeanor.

Advocates for the homeless have been objecting to the city's plan to temporarily close Monroe Park for renovations, saying the work would disrupt feeding programs in the city's oldest park. The renovations have not been scheduled because the estimated $6.2 million renovation project is not funded.

The fight to chase the so-called "vagrants" from the park has been going on at least two generations. In 1959, a physician was murdered while walking through the park on his way to meet his wife. The park benches were taken up temporarily. There was talk of closing the park, which served as an open-air hospital during the Civil War.

Fifteen years ago, the park started closing at sunset to thwart the many who camped there. That shift coincided with the rapid expansion of Virginia Commonwealth University. Now the park is all but surrounded but university buildings and dorms.

Read the Richmond Times-Dispatch report here. And for more perspective on the issues, check out the monroeparkoccupation blog.


At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


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