San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is planning to take down all of the city’s homeless tent encampments and declare them to be safety hazards.
Lee’s intended move was spurred by the fatal shooting of a homeless man armed with a kitchen knife by police on Thursday. He was living in one of these encampments located on Shotwell Street.
“Once the various investigations have finished collecting evidence and completed their interviews of witnesses, I will be ordering the Shotwell camp to be taken down and for it not to come back,” Lee told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It is also time to focus on why the police were called to the scene in the first place,” Lee added, taking aim at the issue of weapons within the homeless camps.
Luis Gongora, 45, who was armed with a kitchen knife, was shot at 11 times by police — four times with less lethal bean bags and then seven times with bullets — which killed him, during a confrontation that lasted for no more than 30 seconds. Video footage of the exchange was reportedly provided to the Chronicle anonymously and shows the officers walking towards Gongora and telling him to put his weapon down before shooting him. Police allege he had charged at them before they shot. Gongora had been living on Shotwell Street for several months.
In February, Lee declared a public emergency in San Francisco and used that as justification for the removal of the homeless tent encampments along Division Street. He faces tough opposition from critics, such as Supervisor David Campos.
There are reportedly not enough beds available in San Francisco shelters to take on the homeless individuals from these encampments.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.