ANN ARBOR (AP) – About a dozen people who lived in campsites along railroad tracks in an Ann Arbor park were forced to relocate after authorities used bulldozers to clear the sites, destroying some tents in the removal process.
The Ann Arbor News reported that between 10 and 15 people were kicked out of Broadway Park on Thursday morning by Michigan’s transportation department and local police.
By Thursday afternoon, most of those displaced had found new areas to stay with help from Timothy Green, an organizer for a homeless advocacy group. Green didn’t specify where the campers moved to. He found replacements for the destroyed tents.
Ann Arbor city officials served the campers with notices prior to the eviction. While the removal on state-owned land could have been handled better, state transportation department official Timothy Hoeffner said had to happen for safety reasons.
“We should have been more sympathetic,” said Hoeffner, the office of rail’s director. “We should have worked closer with the individuals. … We could have done a better job communicating with the people.”
Hoeffner blamed trespassing on railroad tracks for multiple deaths in Michigan every year. Transportation department spokesman Jeff Cranson said those who had lived at the Broadway Park campsites were walking around or over the railroad tracks.
Ann Arbor’s police department referred questions about the eviction to Michigan’s transportation department.
“We cannot allow people to trespass on the railroad,” Hoeffner said. “We had to take action … it just is not safe.”
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