NYPD Employees Improve Business Dismantles Homeless Camp During Dead Man’s Memorial

On Monday morning, about a dozen people gathered at a small homeless camp near Tompkins Square in Manhattan’s East Village to hold a memorial service. Jose Hernandezknown to the community as Joe, a camp resident who had died only days earlier.

As a group of residents, activists and other members of the community lit candles, lit flowers and wrote love messages to Hernandez in preparation for the service, approximately a dozen New York City Police officers and a handful of City Sanitation officials approached the only standing tent. at the camp and a pile of things that sat just a few steps away.

The mourners knew why the city had come: since Mayor Eric Adams stepped up the “cleansing” of the homeless camp – earlier this year, city workers showed up to dismantle the camp. nearly 10 timesthrowing tents and belongings at residents and sometimes arresting community members protesting the forced relocation.

The clean-up is part of Adams’ efforts to force homeless people sleeping on the streets to accept urban services such as shelters for homeless and safe havens. But many, including those at this East Village camp, which they called Anarchy Row, have had a bad experience with such facilities, which they describe as vicious and dangerous. They refuse city services unless they include a private room, no curfew, or a walkway to a permanent apartment, which the city often does not offer. And so comes the city, again and again in the same campsoften scattering the belongings of the inhabitants.

Among the cops who arrived on Monday morning were those assigned to the local area, as well as a few members of the new “Business Improvement Implementation Team”, a unit that the NYPD tacitly introduced in March to homelessness police and quality of life offenses in Manhattan’s commercial areas. According to the New York Postthe department formed a team of about 30 employees after Midtown companies complained about “deteriorating conditions” in their areas and responded to complaints directly from business improvement areas and city councils.

As the cops approached the camp, community members asked them to stop the cleanup. “Can you wait until the memorial is over?” Sergeant Michael Fox of the Ninth Division asked.

“You can go there and take care of the memorial; “I’m in the middle of doing something here,” Fox said. “You are obstructing my police investigation. “Blow out the candles and other things and set them up there.”

Sanitation workers then threw the tent and belongings in a garbage truck, while community members accused the cops of disrupting what they hoped would be a peaceful service. “I’m not interrupting anything,” Fox replied. “You’re interrupting me.”

– Can you show a little respect for the memorial? someone asked. “When you show us respect, we will show respect,” Fox said.

As paramedics continued to sweep, some members of the community shouted at the cops, some recorded on their cell phones, while others hugged and some cried.

Asked about the incident, the NYPD sent the following statement by email: “These are operations of several agencies. The removal was far from the memorial. The memorial has not been damaged. The primary role of the NYPD is to ensure the safety of all involved. “

Friends of Jose Hernandez, who died days earlier, hugged as police and paramedics cut off his monument to dismantle the camp where he often slept. | Chris Gelardi / New York Focus

Hernandez’s partner, who asked to be identified as Emily, left the scene when police entered. When New York Focus caught up with her later that day, she was with her and Hernandez’s friend, mourning him on a park bench.

“I loved him so much,” she said. “He was a great man.” She said they have been together for six years.

Emily said she was with Hernandez, 71, late last week when she started coughing up blood. She alerted the police, who took him to hospital, but he died soon after. She suggested it was liver failure, but said Hernandez was cremated before he could receive any information.

“I miss him with all my heart,” she said. “He helped a lot of people, including me. We helped each other. “

A member of the community on the right consoles Jose Hernandez’s partner ahead of a memorial in his honor. | Chris Gelardi / New York Focus

After police and paramedics cleared the camp, community members renewed the memorial. Like Emily, Hernandez’s friends spoke of his generosity.

“When you had it, you were never in need,” said Johnny Grima, a camp resident. “If he had cigarettes, you had cigarettes; if he had food, you had food. “

Makeup has been at the center of many Anarchy Row cleanings, such as was arrested several times for refusing to leave his tent when police and paramedics arrived. He speaks of Hernandez as a partner in this struggle. “The cold days we spent together here,” he said. “He threw his things away from them, too.” He was also scared of the police, just like us. “

“They have so many empty apartments that they could have given him one before he died,” Grima said. “He is not the first old man to die like this without any help. He, his wife and everyone else don’t deserve it. … We don’t want this to happen to poor people anymore. “

“We need to take care of the people who are going through this situation and improve it – with social services and workers who will provide you with affordable housing,” said a woman named Gloria to applause.

Johnny Grima, left, sits and smokes as a New York Sanitary Officer cleans up his camp near Tompkins Square Park on June 13. | Chris Gelardi / New York Focus

“He was a good man, a kind man,” Gloria later told Hernandez, whom she had known for four years. Speaking about the clean-up, she called out to Mayor Adams, “Would he do that? his family? If his family was out, would he? No.”

In fact, instead of forcing people to accept services, constant clean-ups have a serious impact on the well-being of camp residents, according to community members.

“It’s very clear to watch Anarchy Row and other camps that the clean-up is putting a lot of stress on people,” said Judith Haider, who provides support to camp residents and organizes mutual aid efforts. She said the stress of harassment, forced relocation and the loss of someone’s belongings led to health crises – such as Hernandez’s – deteriorating mental health, drug and alcohol relapses and other problems.

“Every little crack in someone’s support system is wide open,” she said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.