Homeless advocate speaks out after several detained during protest at Roeding Park

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A homeless advocate is speaking out after several people were detained while camping out at Roeding Park on Monday night. 

The homeless group was protesting the city’s lack of housing in Fresno.

A Fresno woman who advocates for the homeless tells us their protest was to keep the homeless issue in the spotlight. 

She says more resources for the homeless are needed. 

Cell phone video from Tuesday morning shows several Fresno Police officers, from the homeless task force, surrounding a person, who is homeless, on the ground in handcuffs.

Police say the woman attacked an officer Tuesday morning as the officer was talking to another person in the encampment.

“The officer had to take that female to the ground, he actually injured his elbow, the female was not injured, she was arrested for obstructing,” says Lt. Mark Hudson with the Fresno Police Department.

He says the woman also made comments about hurting herself and they placed her on a 72-hour mental evaluation hold.

Desiree Martinez, a homeless advocate and co-found of the group “We are not invisible”, says the woman has PTSD and was trigged when police asked them to leave.

This all happened because Martinez says they planned to stay overnight on Monday starting at 10 p.m. when the park closed for a “sleep out” at Roeding Park to protest the city’s “No Camping” ordinance.

Martinez says police arrived and they told them they had to leave.

But before they left, she says police ran the names of people who were there.

Cell phone video shows Martinez getting arrested, but police say everyone was released.

Video also shows police telling them they had to leave because the park was closed.

Police say the group there was trespassing. 

Martinez says a police officer told the group they could camp on the other side of the park’s gate.

But when the task force showed up Tuesday morning, she says they told them they could not be there.

“The street family members are tired, they’re tired of being pushed around, moved around and told different laws from officers,” says Martinez.

Martinez says there is no where for people who are homeless to go with their animals.

She says that’s one of the biggest things for those living on the streets.

But the Fresno Rescue Mission says that there are shelters available for those who want help and places for their animals.

“We can and do provide shelter for pets at an offsite kennel. Anyone, regardless of age can receive services at the rescue mission 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, as long as they are not an abuse to others,” says Matthew Dildine, CEO of the Fresno Rescue Mission.

The Fresno Rescue Mission says there has been an uptick in people seeking help but they say they are utilizing there overflow spaces to give help to anyone and help keep them safe.

Police say they do not enforce the “No Camping Ban”. They say they offer services to the individuals who they come into contact with and the individual has the right to accept help. If they chose not to, police say they ask them to move on. 

Martinez says she just wants people to know that those who are homeless are human. She says she wants them to be treated with compassion.

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