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City of Kalamazoo delays closure of Ampersee homeless encampment

Ampersee Homeless Encampment - Kalamazoo
Posted at 8:23 PM, Sep 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 20:53:53-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The city of Kalamazoo announced Wednesday they would delay the closing of the Ampersee homeless encampment.

It was originally slated to happen at 5 p.m.

A spokesperson for the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (KDPS) said due to a large amount of people still residing at the encampment, they were not going to immediately enforce the deadline.

Starting at 9 a.m., protesters gathered to show their support for the residents making signs and hanging sheets with messages.

While it remained peaceful throughout the day, one group dressed in all black was helping residents barricade entrances to the camp. They also confronted police as they responded to calls on scene throughout the day.

The city of Kalamazoo announced the closure of the Ampersee location back on Sept. 15 stating there had been an uptick in violence and the spread of diseases among pets living there.

A resident of the encampment spoke to FOX 17 after hearing news of the delay. He said he is angry with the city for not giving him and the other residents a different place to go.

"They’re going to wait till you guys are gone to enforce it so there is no public view. They don’t want you to see what they’re doing. You guys left; they took our toilets. What? Why?," said Ampersee encampment resident Ian Balenzuela. "I challenge you to come down here and live like me for one week. I bet you none of you will and none of you can," he said.

Another encampment resident said the closure was bound to happen. He said the violence increased when the other encampment members moved to the Ampersee location after the closure of the Mills Street location.

"You got this big group of people who have no jobs, [or] a home to go to, where they can’t have a peace of mind crowded in like this. Violence occurs. I have seen it firsthand," said Ampersee encampment resident Erik Meersma. "On one hand, I feel bad that they are kicking us out because a lot of us don’t have a place to go. At the same time, I am glad it is happening because it needed to happen," he said.

While the KDPS said they still intend to vacate the camp, they are going to work with community partners to find more suitable options for the people still living there.

Ampersee Encampment Closure

KDPS could not confirm a specific date they intend to enforce the deadline. FOX 17 News will continue to follow-up for details.

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