Authorities clear, relocate about 100 people from Salt Lake homeless camp

Feb 17, 2022, 6:18 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 4:38 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake County authorities cleared about 100 people from a homeless encampment Thursday. The county health department said it was something they needed to do for some time but they waited until they made sure the homeless had a new place to go. 

The day started with police warning the residents over a loudspeaker then a front loader and garbage trucks arrived at 546 S., 700 West.

Communications Administrative Director for the Salt Lake City Police Department Brent Weisberg said two people were issued criminal citations for interference with a public servant. He said one refused to leave the scene despite multiple warnings while the other blocked equipment is use during the cleanup. One of those individuals had an outstanding warrant and was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail.

“There’s a lot of broken people. This is breaking us more,” Stacey Johnson said.  

The people who lived there in tents and makeshift shelters called it Fort Pioneer. She said the entire group maintained the area. 

“We keep a clean camp. Everybody here has an assignment on Camp,” Johnson said. “We don’t like to call it a camp. We call it an outdoor apartment community.” 

The health department had many concerns. 

“This is the normal stuff; garbage, trash, feces, needles, and enhanced crime in this area. And so it had just reached a public health issue where we had to take action,” said Dale Keller from the Salt Lake County Department of Health. 

He said they gave residents a 48-hour warning and made sure space was available at the Weigand Center and additional overflow centers. Some activists at the scene questioned whether the space was really there for all of the cleared residents. 

“These are citizens. These are humans and they’re being treated like garbage,” Barbara Roller, one of the activists said. 

Johnson said she and many others did not want a cot in a shelter. She said a small tent city is more of a home.  

“Utah prides itself on family, society, love, and religion,” Johnson said. “Where is that for us right now?” 

Keller said before they moved forward they confirmed there would be more than 100 beds available for the people they cleared from the encampment. 

He added about 10% of the campers heeded the Health Department’s warning and cleared out before Thursday morning. 

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