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Protesters stand in solidarity with Burlington homeless encampment

Published: Oct. 17, 2021 at 11:50 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - About 75 protesters gathered on the Burlington City Hall steps Sunday afternoon in solidarity with the homeless who are being evicted from a South End encampment Tuesday.

The city of Burlington notified residents of the Sears Lane encampment last week shortly after police say they found drugs during a search and arrested a convicted felon for gun violations.

According to the city’s encampment policies, officials can evict individuals with at least seven days notice, barring an emergency or reason for immediate removal. But Sunday, advocates took to the streets demanding an extension, saying the five days notice Sears Lane residents received isn’t fair. “How we treat the weakest member of our community is how our society and our community is judged,” said Burlington resident Ali Jafari, who was among the group advocating for the Sears Lane residents.

The Progressive members of the Burlington City Council say the decision is abrupt, and they’re calling on the administration to halt the eviction process. The protesters standing outside City Hall Sunday shared the same opinion. “We can’t just evict people from the homeless encampment and expect things to get better. We need a more humane solution,” said Jafari.

At the rally, protesters stood in front of our cameras, intentionally obstructing the view.

Since April, the officials have permitted the encampment on city property, acknowledging a lack of housing for the homeless amid the pandemic. But last Thursday, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington, said the encampment has become “untenable and unacceptable.” “That encampment has become unsafe for campers, for surrounding neighbors, and for our first responders and cannot continue-- we are going to work to find support to find support for those individuals,” Weinberger.

City Councilor Joe Magee, P-Ward 3, was present at the protest but declined an interview.

The issue is expected to come before the City Council at Monday night’s meeting.

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