A man has been taken to hospital for checks after the tent he was living in was bulldozed by workers clearing a homeless encampment.
The unnamed man was reportedly heard ‘screaming’ from inside the tent as it was picked up by the front loader and pushed into the road leaving him trapped inside.
Following the incident, which took place in Washington DC on Monday, October 4, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Health and Human Services has spoken out, addressing the situation.
The spokesperson said that the man had not suffered any ‘visible injuries’ but had been taken to hospital to be properly assessed.
Officials said that prior to work beginning to remove the underpass encampment, each tent had been checked to make sure that nobody remained inside. However, one homeless advocate present at the site claimed that workers began clearing the tents before making any checks.
‘They had to cut a hole to make sure this person was okay and they brought in the fire department who actually got him out,’ Andrew Anderson of the People for Fairness Coalition said, per MailOnline. ‘They didn’t actually take any time to make sure anyone was in there, they just grabbed the tents and took them out.’
Witnesses said that while screams could be heard from inside the pile of tents, those operating the machinery were unable to hear them, leading police officers and homeless advocates watching the clearing process to rush over to come to the man’s aid.
‘Across the street, we heard the man yelling, but they didn’t hear him when they were right next to them so we jumped over the things on the sidewalk to get to him,’ another advocate told local news station WTOP.
DC officials said that the clearance had been ordered as part of a pilot programme designed to connect homeless people living in tent encampments with housing facilities. It’s understood that approximately 60 people were living in the camp prior to its removal, with 22 having earlier been placed in temporary accommodation.
In a statement, the DC deputy mayor for health and human services, Wayne Turnage, said the clearing process would be reviewed.
There will be a check to make sure there is absolutely nobody in that tent, and then a person will stand there while the Bobcat comes to make sure nobody comes in the tent after the check is made.
Whatever the case, we will make sure that it does not happen again.