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Dozens gather at Spokane City Hall Thursday to protest law enforcement at I-90 homeless camp

Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs called for an executive, closed-door session to discuss the legalities of the recent police presence at the camp.

SPOKANE, Wash. — People living at the I-90 homeless camp known as "Camp Hope" were put on notice this week when authorities made an unannounced visit, handing out flyers.

Some view it as dress rehearsal fro clearing out people and tents altogether.

"You are all real leaders," "You have the power. Not the mayor, not the police chief, not Ozzie Knezovich."

On Thursday, Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs called for an executive, closed-door session with the city's legal team.

"I really want to protect our officers," Beggs said.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says the camp will be cleared out this month. Last month, he said he doesn't need a judge's permission to do it.

"We are working to resolve this by any means other than sending law enforcement," Knezovich said. "But, that is an active protest and sooner or later it becomes an unlawful assembly."  

Beggs believes removing people without the state's permission could result in lawsuits against the county, city and even individual officers.

"When they know ahead of time that something would be illegal, violating the 4th Amendment or some other law and then they do it. Even if they do it under orders, they're in real legal jeopardy," Beggs said.

Beggs and several other council members want Spokane police officers to distance themselves from the sheriff's plan.

"Not to get caught up in someone else's political theater where they would get sued," Beggs said.

"I don't believe they mayor or her staff would send officers in if our city legal was advising them not to," Council member Jonathan Bingle said.

Another argument is that despite the Catalyst building opening this week and additional capacity being added to the Trent shelter, there still won't be enough shelter space for everyone at the camp.

"Is it better to be in a warm, heated environment where you're not going to lose any appendages?" Bingle said. "You might not have a bed, you might have a mat, or is it better to stay outside? I think I know what the answer to that is and I think I know what the communities answer to that would be."

On Wednesday, Jewels Helping Hands and residents of the camp filed for an emergency temporary restraining order in federal court in an attempt to stop authorities from clearing up the camp. That decision will be up to a federal judge.

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