The group planning to tow away dozens of RVs and cars from the riverfront homeless camps in Aberdeen Friday morning called off the plan when Aberdeen police said they should first get a formal eviction notice to make sure it’s legal.
The group, led by Ocean Shores resident Sam Hutchinson, intends to eventually clear out all the campers in this area along the Chehalis River where dozens of people sleep in makeshift tents, RVs, and other vehicles.
Hutchinson and others arrived at the camps at 10 a.m. with a tow truck, where they were met by a crowd of homeless campers, many of whom were upset and said they would resist having their homes and vehicles taken to an impound lot.
But when Aberdeen Police Officer Monte Glaser arrived and reviewed Hutchinson’s letters of permission from riverfront property owner Mike Lang, Glaser said the group would need to formally evict the vehicles’ owners in order for it to be a legal operation. Glaser said because some of these people have lived in the vehicles for years, they have established residency in them.
“They’ve established residency, and that’s what it boils down to, because some have been here for years,” said Glaser. “So they have to go through a legal eviction process.”
Upon learning this, Hutchinson instructed the tow truck to leave, and left with his group soon after. Hutchinson said he would now need to submit an eviction request to Grays Harbor District Court, and have it signed by a judge before he attempts to remove the vehicles again.
According to Emily Reed, president of Revival of Grays Harbor, a group that helps the homeless community, there were 28 vehicles that Hutchinson was planning to impound yesterday.
Hutchinson said it was “disappointing” he wasn’t able to tow vehicles Friday, but also that he thinks it’s a “step in the right direction.”
Aside from those in Hutchinson’s group, some others showed up to show support for the homeless campers, and make sure any towing was done legally. The Rev. Sarah Monroe, from Chaplains on the Harbor in Westport, said she was “really glad the law was upheld.”
“I don’t like people getting bullied,” said Monroe.
Glaser warned the homeless residents that if Hutchinson comes back with a judge-signed notice, he will be allowed to tow the vehicles. Glaser also suggested to both Hutchinson and the homeless campers that they take notes on their interractions with each other in case they need to report potential harassment or assault crimes.