LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — An uptick in crime has Belmont Shore residents at odds with homeless advocates early Friday morning.

A group of about 50 volunteers gathered in the pre-dawn hours at 2nd Street and Bayshore Avenue to keep an eye out for crime that organizers say has been on an unchecked rise in Belmont Shore. They were met by about 20 protestors across the intersection, calling the neighborhood watchers “vigilantes.”

Barry Vince, who organized the anti-crime gathering, says criminal activity in the area has been on a steady rise in recent years. He described people who have been nude in front of kids as they make their way to school, hypodermic needles found on beaches, and a spate of both house and car break-ins.

“This is not an anti-homeless march,” Vince said. “We’re here to march against criminals and we want the bad guys taken down.”

He conceded that his social media post about Friday’s gathering may have been taken the wrong way, but the group’s anti-crime efforts have “nothing to do really with the homeless.”

The protesting group carried signs that said, “End the war on poor,” “Long Beach is for everyone,” and “Decriminalize poverty.”

Elizabeth Garcia says she feels strongly about the other group’s efforts after seeing social media comments calling homeless people “rats” and “garbage.”

“These criminal acts they like to talk about a lot of times is just the criminalization of survival,” Garcia said.

The large ranks of homeless is a problem across the state, and Garcia said she doesn’t know of any one solution to combat it.

“It’s a very complex issue, but we know we need to put the humanity of these people first.”

Comments (8)
  1. Thomas Langley says:

    The “homeless” in this instance are not your down and out, displaced families, or mental illness affected that all neighborhoods have. They are not your freedom loving nomads, or anti-establishment idealists.These are opportunistic predators ,selfish drug abusers,malcontents who have chosen the lifestyle they lead. They have formed a loose network based on their criminality and more advanced in organization than any group(including law enforcement)that may attempt to deter them. The openly mock the community and aggrandize their criminal behavior. Perhaps influenced by the entertainment industry projecting the idea that crime can be cool and acceptable, they feel their victims are weak for being victims and that they are performing some kind of public service by stealing. Their tactics of defense include being belligerent and aggressive about their rights, yet completely disregard or are ignorant of the rights of others. All of this has developed within the past decade in these neighborhoods, yet they are so firmly entrenched that it will take a military level strategic plan to remove or even counter them.

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