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Housing and Homelessness

Homeless Encampment Cleared Out In Little Tokyo's Toriumi Plaza As City Performs Maintenance

An unhoused man sits in a chair on the sidewalk. A man in a black shirt, surgical mask and jeans and a masked woman in jeans and a lavender shirt stand on an empty street as they watch another man lean over and treat a wound on his leg.
Dr. Brett Feldman treats Doug's arm while Joseph Becerra, a community health worker, and Senator Sydney Kamlager watch.
(Ethan Ward
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Los Angeles is removing an encampment of unhoused people at Little Tokyo's Toriumi Plaza.

Councilmember and mayoral candidate Kevin De León's office says the plaza will be fenced off indefinitely for "electrical repairs, permanent fencing, landscaping" and other work.

Activist group J-TOWN Action and Solidarity, which does outreach at the plaza, opposes clearing and fencing the space off.

Actions like these remind organizer Zen Sekizawa of Executive Order 9066, that authorized the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

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"The very same things — like having to put your stuff into bags, being caged up, being shipped off, dehumanized, humiliated — these are all happening," Sekizawa said.

She doesn't want to see this happening again in the community, Sekizawa added. The group wants to meet with de León about the encampment.

In October 2021, unhoused residents living at MacArthur Parkwere told to vacate the area. The city spent $1.5 million on renovations and closed the park for four months.

When the park reopened last month, city councilmember Gil Cedillo said outreach workers offered shelter to 326 unhoused people living there before closing the Park.

Several people experiencing homelessness at Echo Park Lakewere detained, arrested, and evicted when the city cleared encampments in March of last year. The park was closed for two months, and a fence was erected around the 29 acres of green space when it reopened. That fence still stands today.

"It is inhumane to let people 'live and die' on the street," de León said in a statement. Since February, 61 people from the encampment have taken offers of housing, according to de León’s office — mainly Project Roomkey and interim placements.

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