MIAMI (WSVN) - A Northwest Miami-Dade camp with a large population of homeless sex offenders will be forced to move after a judge ruled against a lawsuit on the residents’ behalf.
Thursday’s hearing came after a lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that would have prevented the registered sex offenders from being removed from their Northwest Miami-Dade camp.
“The harm you’re trying to prevent is the shuffling to another location, and then when the neighbors in that location complain and complain about the health department, they’ll be shuffling to another location,” said Jeffrey Hearne of the ACLU. “So, we’re trying to create some stability so that they could remain there while they can try to find housing that’s compliant with the 2,500 foot rule.”
However, the county disagreed.
“If it’s known that those enforcement efforts can’t occur, the numbers will swell once again, and the sanitation issues will arise once again, so as to the public health issues, we certainly believe that the public interest weighs in allowing the county to take appropriate enforcement action,” said Assistant County Attorney Michael Valdez.
Ultimately, the judge sided with the county and ordered that the camp must be cleared.
Miami-Dade Police presence was on scene at the camp near Northwest 71st Street and 36th Avenue, Thursday night.
The fear of the unknown had set in for some people who live in the camp.
Christopher Villa, who lives in the camp, doesn’t know where he’ll go next. “I don’t know yet,” he told 7News.
People who live nearby said the camp originally started as a couple of tents before it grew to what it is now. The sex offender registry currently shows that nearly 300 offenders list that area as their home.
Akiba Lan, one of the residents of the camp, is now worried about the future for her neighbors.
“From what I’ve seen of these people, they are terribly broken,” Lan said. “We’re talking emotionally broken, psychologically broken, physically broken.”
Lan added that some have already begun moving their belongings as of Thursday night.
“Some of them called their parole officers, and their parole officers gave them different locations in the area,” said Lan. “So they’ll be in different locations in smaller groups in the area.”
The county is expected to force those in the camp away from the street corner sometime Friday.
However, many of the homeless said they don’t know where they will go.
“This has been very taxing, very difficult,” said Lan. “People actually shaking and crying.”
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