Anchorage homeless camp advocating for rights to occupy public space


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - What started as a protest of Gov. Dunleavy's vetoes to state services for the homeless has morphed into a conflict between the city of Anchorage and a homeless group over the right to camp in public spaces.

The Anchorage Police Department vacated the protest at the Delaney Park Strip on Friday. The same group has since relocated to Valley of the Moon Park, where conflict sparked up again around 11 p.m. Friday.

Over 20 police officers, along with the Municipality of Anchorage’s Mobile Intervention Team, showed up to the park. The encampment group, consisting of 48 homeless individuals, moved their tents off the park grounds and were still there as of 12 p.m. Saturday.

Concerned Anchorage resident and advocate for the group Justina Beagnyman says they’re refusing to leave the park because the city is not providing enough alternative housing options.

"Yes, we shouldn't have camps on trails, or in people's back yards,” Beagnyman said. “But there's no place for them to go, and APD, every time we ask them 'Where can we go?' they have no options for us."

Anchorage Assembly member Christopher Constant says the city does provide housing opportunities for those who qualify. He says the Mobile Intervention Team even picked up a handful of individuals Friday evening who will be connected to rapid rehousing.

"There are a number of people who won't accept what's available, and I'm not sure what we do with those people, because our greenbelts are not a legal encampment,” Constant said. “It's not a place where people can be -- camping at will, especially when there are housing interventions available."

Beagnyman says they expect APD to continue efforts to vacate the encampment.

“We’re just like any other camp,” she said. “We’re just going to pack up and move to another location.”

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