EUGENE, Ore. — The Whoville campsite on Broadway and Hilyard is now vacated after Eugene police sent campers packing.
Police started vacating the site at 9 a.m., blocking off part of the intersection of Hilyard and Broadway.
Campers told us they received a rude awakening, while the city and others say they were warned and it’s time for them to go.
There was singing and clapping at the Broadway and Hilyard intersection in Eugene Friday morning, but the background noise to accompany it was far from music. It was the sound of garbage trucks.
“I’m stressed out beyond belief,” said camper Alexis Edmunson.
Eugene police surrounded the Whoville campsite and evicted campers who had been there for several months.
“I’m 16, and I finally have a home for myself, and all of a sudden this morning it’s gone,” Edmunson said.
Campers say they weren’t given a heads up from the city.
“We were working on moving out, and we thought that we had more time, but then we don’t,” Edmunson said.
“I thought that the original move-out date was April 15th,” said camper Ambrose Holtham-Keathley.
But officials say they’ve warned Whoville campers multiple times evacuation would be no sooner than April 1 and no later than April 15.
“We’ve been repeatedly warning and noticing people that the camp was to be closed beginning the week before April 1st. Again, we reposted the camp would be closed,” said Jan Bohman, City of Eugene spokesperson.
Now campers are left confused as to why this is happening because they felt the Whoville family made a great neighbor for the area.
“Whoville was providing some really, really good services for people,” Holtham-Keathley said.
“We did everything we could to be respectful,” Edmunson said.
But Raymond Negrete, who was a security guard at a former restaurant across the street, says that wasn’t the case.
“Every weekend when I was here, either placing security here or working here, there was always an issue,” Negrete said.
People like Negrete say they’re relieved to see the site close.
“I think it’s a thumbs up, and I think it’s better all around,” Negrete said.
And they can sing a new song while Whoville’s comes to an end.
“How can they take this away from me?” Edmunson said.
The city of Eugene says there were about 19 people on the site Friday morning, and three were arrested earlier for interfering with police, but the rest of the group left peacefully.
The site at Broadway and Hilyard was first occupied in September 2013. At least 20 citations were issued during that month for illegal camping. In January, the city put new “no trespassing” signs. Campers were then subject to criminal trespass charges, a jailable offense. City workers also installed a fence to contain expansion of the camp. According to Eugene police, officers have responded numerous times on complaints of open fires, injured subjects, syringes found in the area, theft, robbery and among other calls. The city says it is working to get campers connected to services they need to find safe and legal shelter.