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Despite a legal notice indicating a sweep at Civic Field, the city did not show up to remove residents from Camp 210 on Friday afternoon.
The city announced its plan to sweep the new location of Camp 210 on Tuesday. The notice stated anyone remaining at the site after 4 p.m Friday would be subject to arrest for trespassing.
An estimated 30 to 40 residents remained at Camp 210 the morning of Feb. 5. Protestors were present throughout the day but were not met with city or police presence.
At 4 p.m., there was no clear city presence at the camp despite the previously posted order. As night fell, no further action from the city occurred.
On Thursday, Jan. 28, the city swept Camp 210 from its previous location on the lawns of City Hall a day earlier than scheduled. Roughly 80 law enforcement officers in tactical gear faced off against a large group of protesters throughout the morning and early afternoon.
By late afternoon, all of the tents had been removed and many of the residents had relocated to a new encampment at Civic Field.
More than a dozen local activist groups co-signed a letter Thursday, Feb. 4, calling on the city to call off the sweep. The letter, whose signatories include the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, Whatcom Peace & Justice Center, Bellingham Unity Committee, Whatcom Democratic Socialists of America and others, also called on the city to develop a permanent policy banning sweeps.
“As a group of local grassroots community organizations concerned with justice and human rights, we come together to publicly condemn the openly militarized use of force displayed in sweeping the encampment at 210 Lottie Street,” the letter said.
It also cited the Centers for Disease Control’s current guidelines, which recommend against sweeps because of COVID-19.
The mayor’s office and a spokesperson for the Bellingham Police Department were unable to be reached by phone or email Friday afternoon.
Caroline Brooks is a journalism student and a reporter for The Front. Her work includes local features and Bellingham-based news.