Tent City on Southeast 4th Place Torn Down

Tent City on Southeast 4th Place Torn Down
Gainesville Police Department interim chief Nelson Moya talking to his employees at the start of the sweep

The encampment of numerous homeless Gainesville residents on SE 4th PL was shut down by over a dozen Gainesville Police Department (GPD) officers Thursday morning.

The people who were living in a line of tents on SE 4th PL were notified last Monday, with signs attached to tents stating, “In order to keep public property clean, safe, and available for its intended use, the tent & personal items, which are unlawfully upon public property known as SE 4th PL (unit block), must be removed within three (3) days from the date of this notice. Otherwise, it will be removed and disposed of pursuant to General Government Administrative Procedure No. 23 and Chapter 705, Florida State Statute. The owner will be responsible for the costs of removal, storage, and publication of notice. For retrieval of items, please contact 352-393-8238 between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Dated this Monday, May 13th, 2024. Signed. [Victoria] Young #645, Captain, 545 NW 8th Ave, Gainesville, FL, 32801, 352 393-7600.”

Activists and advocates arrived in the early morning to help with getting items claimed and finding resources for the unhoused people living on SE 4th PL.

GPD officers arrived at about 7:30 am around the corner from SE 4th PL, mobilizing with Gainesville Fire & Rescue employees in a nearby garage. Meanwhile, city employees began to pick up trash and load numerous items into a truck, such as mattresses, pillows, tables, chairs, and a variety of household appliances.

One of the city employees explained the situation to responding advocates. “The police and all of them, they are sitting right around that corner…. Whatever you don’t have taken out of here in thirty minutes, they're taking it. Any issues with it; they take you to 39th. I’m gonna be honest with you, they are going straight to county jail…. You start going back and forth with them, they got zero tolerance; they take you straight to county jail.” 

No one was taken to 39th, i.e., arrested. The possibility of arrests being mentioned at the sweep was likely due to the recent arrest of unhoused woman at the homeless camp sweep at Lynch Park on May 9. The charges and context of the arrest have not been independently verified due to the last name of the arrestee not being confirmed. However, an officer mentioned her arrest as being over her not moving her stuff. An activist said she was booked for resisting arrest and trespassing, but that formal charges were not filed. 

The majority of the city employees who arrived on the scene acted in a professional manner; however, one employee told responding advocates and activists, “You failed them; you should’ve been here earlier.” She began laughing before loading more of the items inside of a truck while asking if “it looks good?” In reference to the unhoused people’s items being confiscated. Before departing, the employee said, “They’re mad because I took their shit; they're mad.”  


The authority over Gainesville’s homeless camp clearings appears to have been put in the hands of District 2 GPD Captain Victoria Young. She signed the previously mentioned notice and was at the GPD quarterly update on May 2, speaking on her efforts to remove homeless people from encampments set up on a piece of private property on Waldo Road. She said the area was cleared to make it “a little more accessible and a little more visually pleasing.” 

Captain Victoria Young at the sweep

Activists and police conducted themselves civilly with each other. Some notified Captain Young that they did not believe the sweeps were the solution, and Young responded that it was not a “sweep,” but a “clearing of obstructions.” 

City workers, many of whom were wearing white hazmat suits, used construction equipment to clear tents and other items on the side of the road.


Following the sweep, a city employee offered homeless Gainesville residents bags of fruit and bottles of water. 

The City of Gainesville has referred to the sweeping of homeless encampments as “part of a series of downtown cleanup initiatives.” In a press release about the previously mentioned sweep at Lynch Park, the City of Gainesville said it was in need of a “deep clean.” 

Trees and a barrier were placed around the side of the road on SE 4th PL where the tents were to dissuade any resettlement. 

This sweep comes two months after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1365. The bill goes into effect on October 1. The bill states it will “prohibit counties and municipalities from authorizing or otherwise allowing public camping or sleeping on public property without certification of designated public property by the Department of Children and Families (DCF)."

In order to obtain DCF certification, the City of Gainesville would need to provide the DCF proof of the following:  

“(1) There are not sufficient open beds in homeless shelters…. (2)  The designated property is not contiguous [i.e., in close proximity] to property designated for residential use…. (3) The designated property would not adversely and materially affect the property value or safety and security of other existing residential or commercial property…. (4) Ensure the safety and security of the designated property and the persons lodging or residing on such property [and] maintain sanitation, which must include, at a minimum, providing access to clean and operable restrooms and running water.”

The City of Gainesville has said $700,000 was allocated towards homelessness initiatives to “outfit 10 new beds at the existing facility, with [Grace Marketplace] then moving quickly to renovate a vacant 10,000-square-foot building into a residential emergency shelter, adding 20 more beds.”

Grace Marketplace was primarily referenced by police and city employees as the place for unhoused Gainesville residents at the sweep to go. One city employee said that some had other accommodations and some went to Grace Marketplace. 

Grace Marketplace is a non-profit homeless shelter on NE 28th DR, located next to a prison work release center. According to Grace Marketplace’s website, they provide approximately 130 beds for emergency shelter. It is stated on their site, “Bed entries are conducted on a first-come, first-serve basis…. Shelter bed availability changes each day, and there is no guarantee a bed will be available.”

There have been numerous altercations, and assaults involving knives at Grace Marketplace.

Ernest Kiser was arrested last week on May 13 at Grace Marketplace for threatening to kill someone with a knife. 

Dashad Clark was arrested last month on April 6 for pulling a knife out on two people at Grace Marketplace.  

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Sex Offender/Predator Registration List, there are approximately 37 sex offenders and/or predators with their registered addresses to Grace Marketplace. The registry also shows numerous sex offenders and/or predators living in close proximity to Grace Marketplace. 


Grace Marketplace does not house children; they have a policy that all persons must be 18 years old or older to stay there.  

Interim Chief Nelson Moya
Lieutenant Marc Plourde
Jack Walden

Jack Walden

Jack Walden is the creator of Gnvinfo and a 2nd year journalism major at Santa Fe College. From general information, to exposing falsehoods and corruption, Jack seeks to deliver the truth.
Gainesville, FL