PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Crews in hazmat suits were seen removing tents and other items from a homeless encampment and loading them into trucks outside the Rhode Island State House on Saturday morning.
The action comes less than 24 hours after a judge ruled in favor of the McKee administration in a legal dispute over clearing out the encampment, which advocates said was set up in part to protest a lack of adequate shelter and affordable housing in the state.
A lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Rhode Island Center for Justice sought to prevent the protesters’ removal, claiming that doing so would be a violation of their rights.
The two groups expressed disappointment with the judge’s decision, saying the plaintiffs were staying outside the State House in freezing weather to “make an important point” about the housing crisis.
Gov. Dan McKee said every member of the encampment was offered shelter. On Friday night, the state opened a new 24-hour warming station inside the Cranston Street Armory, which is part of a larger effort to increase the state’s shelter capacity, according to McKee.
“From the start, our team has been focused on connecting unhoused Rhode Islanders with safe, warm shelter,” McKee said in a statement Friday. “We were able to outline those extensive outreach efforts to the court and today’s ruling acknowledges the effectiveness of that work.”