LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – After several hundred protesters clashed with police a day earlier, Los Angeles officials confirmed Thursday morning that Lake Echo Park will be closed indefinitely to clean up the large homeless encampment there.

Protesters clash with LAPD officers in riot gear at Echo Park Lake to remove homeless encampments there. 24. March 2021. (CBSLA)

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell confirmed early Thursday morning that Echo Park Lake was closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic. On Wednesday, contractors began putting up fences around the park.

The Echo Park facility has become a very dangerous place for everyone: Drug overdoses, sexual and physical assaults, self-appointed leaders taxing homeless people and vendors, animal abuse, homeless families in cold weather and a shooting last fall in which a homeless man was shot in the leg by gang members while children stood nearby, O’Farrell said in a statement. Four people died in the park last year.

From Wednesday morning into Wednesday evening, hundreds of people protested the plan to temporarily close Echo Park Lake to evacuate the large-scale encampment and clean up the estimated $500,000 in damage.

The protests prompted the LAPD to declare a citywide tactical alert Wednesday night. Video footage showed pushing and shoving between the two sides, and police issued an eviction notice shortly before 10:30 p.m., declaring the demonstration an illegal gathering.

The tactical alert was raised at approximately 1:25 a.m. Thursday. In a statement, Los Angeles police said the protest was largely peaceful and no tear gas was used. One person was arrested for disobeying the orders of a police officer.

LAPD statement on Echo Park closure pic.twitter.com/zesTqYAx3N

– LAPDHQ (@LAPDHQ) 25. March 2021

In January and February 2020, the city held similar cleanups, which also led to mass protests. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that about 120 tents remain in the park, but only 19 people have been living there since last week. Homeless advocates called the forced relocation unfair and said it posed a major problem with the homeless crisis in Los Angeles.

What we learned last year when we were fighting is that the vast majority of people understand, they understand that they could be in this situation, that it could be your mother or your brother, and they support us, Ayman Ahmed of Echo Park Rises Up told CBSLA on Tuesday.

They want these people out of here, out of the park, yes, they will intervene just to get to the hotel, community activist Carlos Marroquin said Wednesday. But what happens next? These vouchers are not permanent, they are temporary.

O’Farrell did not give a date for when the park will reopen to the public.

Once the damage is determined and the necessary repairs are made, we will provide an update on when the park will be open to the public again, he said in his press release.

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