Violence in homeless camp in Bangor causing police to clear area

Published: Jul. 24, 2018 at 5:48 PM EDT
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"All my stuff's packed. It's gone. It's in storage."

For the last two months, Eric Weyand says he's been living along the Penobscot River in a tent city of homeless people, an area that Bangor Police are getting ready to clear out.

"It's really the violence that forces us to act. We've had several acts of violence that have taken place at the campsite. Our goal is not to arrest or charge anybody with any crime but just get them to move out of the area for their own safety," says Sgt. Wade Betters with the Bangor Police Department.

We were there last year when the area was cleared out. Betters says when people began moving back in, they were told by police it would be cleared out again if violence became a problem.

"We do let them camp and live down there unless things turn violent, and in this case repeatedly violent, so there's no choice left for us," he says.

Police started warning people about two weeks ago they would need to find somewhere else to go and are helping them make connections with local resources. Walking along the path, you can see where people have left things behind. There are still some people left. Several we spoke with, including Weyand, say they are sad to go but understand why police are doing this.

"They've just been really tolerant. It's like they show up giving out gift cards. They just haven't been what you would assume."

He says it's new, younger people causing the problems.

"When the youngsters show up, there's a crowd of us that are older that, I hate to use the word regulate things, but these youngsters show up and they were like ODing every other day and what happened the other day was you know, you know, Adrien is a good guy."

We're told by people living in the tent city Adrien is the name of the man stabbed in a recent violent fight. Todd Bray says he got thrown when the fight broke out and broke his arm.

"It's to the point where it's gotten out of hand."

He says he understands.

"They're doing their jobs."

As for where he'll go?

"One of the local shelters or find another place in some other woods somewhere."

Michael Gordon is a homeless veteran.

"We're homeless people staying in a tent. We don't bother anyone, the good people, but the younger kids that come from out of state, come up here to do whatever. They make the good people look bad. They're bringing their drugs in. They're cooking crystal meth. They're shooting their heroin, whatever. It ruins it for the people that are the good people," he says.

Gordon says he has another place to go to before police and public works come back to begin the clearing process, a move Betters says is hard given homelessness in the area.

"It's a big one to solve because there's a lot of barriers with mental health and substance abuse that prevent people from even utilizing the system the way it is, and that's why we've been so passionate about getting down there so often to say, hey these are the services that are available," says Betters.