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Activists form 'wall' to protect belongings of homeless outside City Hall 

click to enlarge Cynthia Ham, who says she's been without a home for about a month, lately has camped outside of City Hall advocating for more resources for the homeless. - WILSON CRISCIONE
  • Wilson Criscione
  • Cynthia Ham, who says she's been without a home for about a month, lately has camped outside of City Hall advocating for more resources for the homeless.

At 9:30 am Monday morning, activists and homeless individuals joined hands outside Spokane City Hall, forming a "wall" to protest the city's plans to clean up the camp that was formed there to demand more resources for the homeless.

"This is what community looks like!" shouted Alfredo LLamedo to the group of dozens of people holding hands.

Yet city code enforcement didn't show up at 9:30 am, when the campers thought the city would come clear out the camp. Instead, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist says code enforcement officers will be out there today for "litter control," but she says they won't take any personal items from the campers.
click to enlarge Alfredo LLamedo says he mobilized today's protest after the city posted warnings to clean out the camp on Saturday - WILSON CRISCIONE
  • Wilson Criscione
  • Alfredo LLamedo says he mobilized today's protest after the city posted warnings to clean out the camp on Saturday

LLamedo is an activist and social worker who has been staying outside City Hall for weeks. It started as a hunger strike in an attempt to get Spokane City Council to suspend an ordinance that barred people from sitting or lying on downtown sidewalks during the day. City Council did so last week, but he's continued his protest outside City Hall to demand additional beds and warming shelters. He's been joined by homeless individuals who have formed a camp outside the front doors.

On Saturday, the city posted notices warning them to clear out by today or else code enforcement will come and clean up the site on their own.

"They basically threatened to come out here at 9:30 and remove what little people owned," LLamedo tells the Inlander. "So when I found out, I said, 'No. Not gonna happen.'"

click to enlarge Signs in front of City Hall call for city leaders to "stop criminalizing homelessness. - WILSON CRISCIONE PHOTO
  • Wilson Criscione photo
  • Signs in front of City Hall call for city leaders to "stop criminalizing homelessness.

Feist says nobody camping outside City Hall will be cited under any city ordinance because there is no shelter space available. 

"They'll be asked to move to allow the cleaning to occur," Feist says. "Certainly there have been bodily fluids that we'd like to clean up."

She says City Council will be presented with a contract at their meeting tonight to open up more warming shelters for single men, many of whom have been affected by the House of Charity shelter reducing its capacity. This comes two weeks after City Council approved funding for warming shelters for women and families with children. 
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