People pack up tents after Market Street Park month-long homeless encampment comes to a close
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Market Street Park’s closing hours are officially back in place as of 11 p.m. Saturday.
People living in the park packed after the city announced it will close promptly at 11 p.m. Many of the people were worried about where they will go next.
“It's been hard. And I was staying here, but you know they are trying to clear everyone out here by tonight. I am trying to make it better for myself and help my mom at the same time,” Benjamin Perez, who had been staying in the park, said.
Last month City Manager Sam Sanders lifted the park’s closing hours as a short-term solution for the homeless in the area. Now with PACEM opening a week early, those hours are going back into place.
Mason Pickett has been counter-protesting Sander’s original decision to let people camp out in the park.
“To sort of counter the people in the park that want a freebie, I want a freebie too. If they get a freebie, I want a freebie,” Pickett said.
Also Saturday, a man who goes by Untitled, organized an “open house” of the park to connect with those who have called the park home for nearly a month.
“I organized this, I put up the signs. I just decided it would be a good idea to have an open house. Or have people come in and experience for themselves what some of these people are like, get to talk to them maybe, and gain some understanding,” he said.
Earlier this week, Charlottesville Police Chief Michael Kochis said officers will be helping people get to their next location throughout Saturday. As of 3:30 p.m. Saturday, CPD was there helping and many of the tents had been taken down as people were starting to vacate the park.
Though PACEM is opening to accommodate the people living in the park, many of them want more from the city and still fear what lies ahead.
“I am just sick and tired of trying to survive. I don’t want to survive anymore; I want to live. And I can’t live my life if I am fighting to survive. Things need to change in this city,” Perez said.