Homeless Camps Cleared Out For Riverfest

WILKES-BARRE — An event to celebrate the Susquehanna River in the Wyoming Valley is getting underway Friday evening in Wilkes-Barre.

It is a family fun event and that’s why there was concern about clearing out the homeless camps along the banks of the river before the festival began.

Volunteers told Newswatch 16 homeless camps along the river should not be a problem; most have been cleared out.

The festivities got underway at River Common in Wilkes-Barre with fishing, kids’ activities, and the Awaken the Dragon ceremony.

The tents are up at Nesbitt Park and steps have been sprayed down at River Common for Riverfest 2014 in Wilkes-Barre.

“I love the park. I come here almost every day to run. I’m enjoying it.”

Cheryl Bertucci just moved from Lake Wallenpaupack to Wilkes-Barre. She enjoys the recreational areas along the Susquehanna River but Bertucci has noticed that the place is also popular with the homeless.

“They’re here. If we ignore it, it doesn’t help it. Maybe seeing it, maybe somebody could help by seeing what’s going on.”

The focus this weekend is on the Susquehanna, but there are some safety concerns about homeless camps that have set up along the river banks.

“Everyone in here, that comes in here, that I find all this stuff, they have a criminal background.”

Richard Hosey, a volunteer with Susquehanna River Watch, showed us letters that some of the homeless received in jail and also a pickup truck bed filled with suitcases and tarps removed from homeless camps he helped clear out in nearby Kirby Park.

“They are going to keep this Riverfest all out here in the open. They know that it might be dangerous to go back into that part of the park,” Hosey said.

Hosey said the trouble is on the other side of the Market Street Bridge in wooded areas and Wilkes-Barre police have directed the homeless to shelters or a soup kitchen in the city.

The focus now is on a clean, family-friendly environment for fishing and traditional festivities on both sides of the Suquehanna River.

Riverfest continues all day Saturday, and the big dragon boat race is Sunday morning.

Click here for more information.

23 comments

  • Jaime

    Dear WNEP:

    I have some concerns about the homeless camps cleared out along the Susquehanna River by Riverfront Park in time for Riverfest 2014.

    While I recognize the existence of the homeless camps in Riverfront Park violate some of their rules and regulations, the way the camps have been cleared out and the reason why the camps were cleared out are a cause for concern.

    First of all, the stigmatization of the homeless as “dangerous” has resulted in an act of discrimination. To assume people who are homeless are “dangerous”, and to clear the camps out in the name of “family fun” or to create a “family-friendly environment” is not okay. Should not the homeless have access to a “family-friendly environment” or be equally entitled to a “family fun event”?

    Second of all, as a volunteer with the Susquehanna River Watch, Mr. Richard Hosey, does not have the right to take possessions that he found in the homeless camps, including letters and luggage. Those possessions are not his, and he does not have a legal right to touch or remove them regardless of his reasons for doing so. I understand Mr. Hosey was concerned, but he took possessions that do not belong to him. I assume these items have been discarded. However should I be wrong, I ask that they immediately are returned to the people they belong to.

    I am highly disappointed by the silence of political leaders, church leaders, and law enforcement officials in this situation.

    I am asking for dignity for the homeless. I am asking for respect for the homeless. I am asking that we seek better solutions. I am asking that Mr. Hosey be held accountable to return the possessions he took. I am asking that the homeless be welcomed at all community events.

  • Jack Meehoff

    I didn’t see any of the bleeding heart liberals offer to allow the homeless to stay on their property. Odd, isn’t it? They lecture everyone else about how we should act but take no actions themselves. Typical liberals, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

  • Cousin Stinky

    Should have given them each a bar of soap and “pushed” them across the river. A quick bath never hurt anybody. Trust me on that.

    • mdog

      They did but no soap, all the riff-raff from WB ends up on the Kingston side.
      Looks like Detroit now.

      • Philip

        The international Conference on Mens Issues is in Detroit next week for a reason and feminists are protesting it too for their own reasons.

  • Annoyed

    Wow this city should really be ashamed of themselves. It is like they are hiding the homeless in shame rather than helping them! It is clear that the city has a alot of people who need help! They need to do something to help then rather than kicking them out of the only place that they can call home. Who cares whether or not they have a criminal background! They are still human! If this city is a good as it says it is, than they need proof they are! Shame on you Wilkesbarre!

    • MWM

      Well they don’t belong smattered about our parks and neighborhoods! If you’re so concerned let them stay with YOU! People have a right to feel safe and enjoy a day out without worrying about being harassed. This state definitely needs more shelters and facilitates to help it’s unfortunate citizens, and allowing them to run rampant in state parks is NOT the solution. Yes they are still human beings even tho they have criminal backgrounds but what KIND of human beings? Homelessness is a big problem in many cities and some of them can get violent and almost all of them behave unpredictably. They have been known to attack tourists by pushing them in front of trains, hitting them on the head with bricks, and sticking a sword thru them while they are out walking their dog. This is just 3 out of many incidents.
      If they are veterans they should receive some kind of income until they find work and should be helped to find work.
      http://www.oefoif.va.gov/
      We had been in a position to help 4 people we knew were homeless and ended up kicking them out because they refuse to conform to any sense of normalcy. This is why most people are homeless, this is why most people that are criminals end up as criminals because they can’t conform to normalcy!

  • DISGUSTED

    Well isnt that completely convenient! tuck the homeless away for the weekend for the “safety” of those who wish to have fun in the park! Any of you realize how many DO NOT have a criminal background who are also VETERANS! Directed them to the soup kitchens and shelters??? Guess what they are already FULL! Hence the majority being in the “woods”. This is the second story ive read on this website that mentions the awful homeless people in the park and the worry about safety of those so called “good” citizens. Perhaps someone should concentrate on solving the problem instead of fililng them away elsewhere. Im proud to say that my daughter spearheaded an event to help and donate to those who live in Kirby park and the surrounding city. She singlehandly raised over $1000 dollars as well as loaded a one ton van to the brim with needed supplies for them, the bulk of which are VETERANS, who gave their all while most gave NONE. We spent time with many of these men and women and cherished the time they gave us of themselves and reveled in their gratitude for a 16 year old kid giving a darn about them! I am proud to say that we know them and our lives have been enriched by each and every one of them. Our family will continue to donate of our time and resources every chance and event we can.

  • Me

    River fest ?? Really ? Kick the homeless further out. Get out of our park so we can have a community shindig. Aren’t these people part of the community. Why didn’t you offer these people a minimum wage position to help set up. Or a free meal. Or something???

    You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Whoever attended this fiasco. All over a polluted river. Please !

    • Markie in Parsons

      It’s a public park, not an impromptu lean-to community. I paddled today—my 12th R-Fest—and the taxes I pay make these and all other amenities available to me on demand

      And, I should be embarrassed for having attended this so-called fiasco

      Guess again.

  • Snshn

    I can’t believe that Mr. Hosey feels that what he’s done is a good thing. He should be locked up for theft!
    I agree with Steph & Chris completely.
    This is WRONG

  • Steph

    Wy does america treat homelessness like a crime and not help our fellow man. More then not they are veterans coming back from war and not getting the care they need to get use to civilian life again. This is beyond wrong. He had no right to take their mail. They should try and help them help themselves. Humanitarian award. Guess what not attending riverfest. Lets kick all the homeless out so the privileged can “feel” safe.

  • chris

    Why didn’t Richard Hosey get in trouble for stealing from these people? Isn’t taking/reading someone’s mail a federal crime? If he had a problem with them being there, why didn’t he direct them to shelters in the area? Instead of pushing them into other areas with no real solution to the problem. If I went into his house and distroyed the place, stole his mail and his most important belongings, I would be in jail (as should he). And WNEP justifies his behavior by writing this story. These tents were not abandoned, there should have been efforts made to find these people and return their belongings.

  • Mac Daddy

    I remember when they were called hobos and hung out by the railroad tracks eating beans from a can.. Dang, now I’m hungry for beans!

  • Frank

    We need to remember that – up until the crash – some ‘o these homeless people
    had homes, families, and full time jobs. Now they’re on the street. And some of
    you are just a paycheck or two away from embracing the same fate.
    Think about that the next time you kick them while they’re down.

    • Philip

      I’d no plan to go there, but now I’m half tempted to go carrying a sign reading “F*** the HOMELESS”.

    • MWM

      “We need to remember that – up until the crash – some ‘o these homeless people had homes, families, and full time jobs.” You know that for a fact? Every single one of them? None are mentally ill? Unstable? Addicted to drugs? Criminals?

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