TUCSON — Down the street from a row of trendy restaurants and boutiques, government workers scurry to work past dozens of wooden sleeping pods and tents.
The growing camp in a Tucson city park near the highway exit that leads to a revitalized downtown is the scene of a pitched battle between city officials concerned with nurturing its core and protesters who say the city has unfairly criminalized homelessness.
The protesters at Veinte de Agosto Park say the growing encampment on a small, one-acre green space is a way to combat city regulations they believe unfairly target the homeless. For city officials and business owners, it is an eyesore that unfairly takes space from pedestrians and chases away visitors and tourists and their dollars.
City officials point to the human and dog excrement left behind on city sidewalks. They say the wooden pods restrict walking space.
On Thursday, police conducted a sting that resulted in the arrest of six camp members, including its leader, Jon McLane.