Park Closed After Emergency City Council Meeting

+Megan+Ortega%27s+sister+pleading+to+the+audience+to+have+sympathy+for+those+at+the+encampments%2C+January+6%2C+2020+-+There+was+a+dichotomy+between+the+audience%27s+perception+of+the+homeless+individuals%2C+between+criminals+and+addicts+in+need+of+help.+
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Park Closed After Emergency City Council Meeting

 Megan Ortega's sister pleading to the audience to have sympathy for those at the encampments, January 6, 2020 - There was a dichotomy between the audience's perception of the homeless individuals, between criminals and addicts in need of help.

Megan Ortega's sister pleading to the audience to have sympathy for those at the encampments, January 6, 2020 - There was a dichotomy between the audience's perception of the homeless individuals, between criminals and addicts in need of help.

Megan Ortega's sister pleading to the audience to have sympathy for those at the encampments, January 6, 2020 - There was a dichotomy between the audience's perception of the homeless individuals, between criminals and addicts in need of help.

Megan Ortega's sister pleading to the audience to have sympathy for those at the encampments, January 6, 2020 - There was a dichotomy between the audience's perception of the homeless individuals, between criminals and addicts in need of help.

Diana Juarez, Associate Editor

The People V.S. The Whittier City Council 

Homelessness Has Parked Itself In The Minds Of The Community

Mayor Joe Vinatieri of the city of Whittier called for an emergency city council meeting January 6th, 2020 after a 22 year old woman was found dead at Parnell Park on New Year’s morning. The meeting centered around public safety and figuring out a solution to the ongoing homeless problem that has been affecting Whittier.

Citizens of Whittier flooded city council, many having to sit in chairs set out in the lobby while others lined up out the door of the meeting room to voice their concerns. Various news outlets, including FOX 11, NBC 4, Telemundo 52, and CBS 2 were also present.

After hours of public comment and a heated discussion among the council, it was voted to remove the homeless encampment at Parnell Park, shut down and clean the portion of the park in which the encampment was located, and enforce a strict curfew. It was one of four options that city manager Brian Saeki came up with.


“We call this special meeting due to the public outcry and concern over the loss of a young woman in our community and other incidents at Parnell Park. We need to have a frank and honest discussion about how to address the attractant that the encampment is causing without violating rights of individuals experiencing homelessness in our community. We also want to be particularly sensitive to the needs of our residents, particularly those in the immediate neighborhood surrounding Parnell Park,” said Mayor Vinatieri.

He went on to plead with those in attendance to be respectful in their comments as the family of Corinna Megan Ortega, the young woman that was found dead, was also present.

“You will never know the pain I’m feeling right now that my daughter’s life was taken. I don’t want anyone else to get hurt…Megan, my baby girl wouldn’t have wanted this to happen to anyone, she was a kind soul,” said Thorpe through tears, “There is horrible things happening at the park that I have to listen to…I can’t grieve in peace because people are trying to hurt others.” 

The comments from those in attendance varied, while many expressed their condolences to Ortega’s family others referred to the homeless as “trash.”

Regardless of mayor Vinatieri’s request to keep things respectful, some of the people in attendance interrupted Jordyn Ortega, Corinna’s younger sister, when Jordyn was voicing her concerns. 

While the council had given Corinna’s family an extra minute in order to express their grief, some members of the audience felt that they deserved more time because “other people get an extra minute when they have a different view.”

Although the majority of the audience backed the closing of the parks, those against closing the park felt that this would just cause the encampment to move from Parnell to another park. 

 

The next city council meeting will take place next Tuesday, January 14 at 6pm.

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