'No camping in city parks': Homeless camp confronted by APD at Valley of the Moon Park
One side of Valley of the Moon Park had Anchorage police, the other, the homeless and their supporters.
Police told the campers earlier in the day they had to leave Westchester Lagoon. The homeless moved to the park after they spent a week at Delaney Park Strip.
"What else do I have to do other than just be homeless on the side of the road," said Theodore Merculief, one of the campers.
Their third stop at Valley of the Moon Park found the campers and supporters more defiant.
"There's no other crime in Anchorage, Alaska except for a sober, homeless camp," asked Natasha Gamache, one of the camp's supporters, and who used to be homeless.
APD said there's a simple reason why the homeless can't stay in the park, it's the law.
"There's no camping in city parks," said Capt. Michael Kerle. "Actually, you can't camp on municipal land unless you have a permit."
Anchorage has also increased its crackdown on homeless camps. But people can’t be forced from homeless camps if there isn’t a place for them to go. That's the word earlier this year from Anchorage Housing and Homeless Coordinator Nancy Burke.
APD pointed out the Brother Francis Shelter had 100 beds available Friday, but the campers said they did not want to go because of safety concerns.
The situation frustrated Assemblyman Chris Constant whose district includes Valley of the Moon Park.
"You have all of these loud, organizing people, who have been dragging all these people down here, and making a show out of all of this," Constant said.
Constant told the camp’s supporters there must be a church willing to accept the group.
The confrontation between the campers and police ended with no arrests, and the homeless still in their camp. Saturday morning, the group cleaned up and considered obtaining a permit to camp on municipal land.
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