‘We won’t go’: Homeless campers refuse to leave Spokane park, despite police efforts

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Police attempted to break up a homeless camp that took over a Browne’s Addition park on Thursday, but were met with opposition. 

The city’s warming center contract with Jewels was set to expire Friday at midnight. Miscommunication led Jewels to believe the contract expired Thursday and the operators removed more than 110 people from the shelter on Thursday morning.

Those people were set up in tents in Browne’s Addition’s Coeur d’Alene Park. The city said Jewels violated their contract by doing so.

RELATED: Cannon Street warming shelter closing as contract ends this week

According to City Spokesman Brian Coddington, the park has a 10 p.m. curfew.

In order to vacate the area before that time, the City brought three STA busses to transport campers to the makeshift shelter at the downtown library. 

4 News Now reported from the scene, where some campers were heard chanting “hell no, we won’t go.”

Eventually, all tents were taken down and campers were taken by busses to the shelter.

In a post to Facebook, Jewels Helping Hands founder Julie Garcia said she was “disgusted” with the City’s administration.

“I think we now have proof beyond a reasonable doubt that people experiencing homelessness are not a priority in this city,” Garcia said.

“All this could have been avoided if we had an email or explanation from the city that made sense,” Garcia continued.

As Jewels was moving people out of the shelter Thursday morning, city, county and health officials were working to approve a new operator to manage the shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guardians Foundation was chosen and expected to take over the Cannon Shelter space Friday morning.

Jewels is now refusing to remove property from the shelter for the next two weeks, saying that’s how much notice they need to be given before evacuating, under contract.

It’s unclear what steps will be taken going forward.

READ: Guardians Foundation to take over Cannon St. center, city says Jewels Helping Hands violated agreement