A candlelight vigil was held on Thursday, June 14 at St. Mary’s Student Parish on East Williams Street as faith-based communities came together in support of Camp Take Notice — a self-governing community for homeless people in Ann Arbor set to close June 22, as ordered by the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Camp Take Notice provides shelter and resources to the homeless in partnership with Michigan Itinerant Shelter System-Interdependent Out of Necessity, which aims to help facilitate tent communities for the homeless, according to their website. They must move after being cited trespassing notices by MDOT.
Highlights of the vigil included prayers for the camp and a moment of silence for the recent passing of Camp Take Notice resident Terry Clark. Flyers with Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s contact information were given to the audience as Rev. Ian Reed Twiss of Holy Faith Church in Saline persuaded participants to “keep calling” in an effort for Camp Take Notice to stay open.
The mass then proceeded to Liberty Plaza where they continued to sing and pray. Residents of the camp expressed their gratitude toward the camp and its supporters.
Also shown at the parish on that day was a letter signed by 48 persons of faith from 30 different faith communities in protest of MDOT’s decision to close down the camp.
Rock Collins, pastoral councilmember of the Ann Arbor-based St. Francis of Assisi Parish, recalled the camp being “extremely organized.” Collins said he thinks a 60-day period is needed for camp residents to arrange for other means of housing and added that eviction on June 22 would not allow people to do so.
Collins said if necessary, “there is going to be resistance” on the day of eviction, even if some residents and supporters will be arrested.
Brian Durrance, secretary of MISSION, wrote in an e-mail to The Michigan Daily that the Sherriff’s department “will begin to denude the site on (June 19),” meaning the residents may have to leave the site earlier than expected.
Alonzo Young, the first graduate of Camp Take Notice, heard of the camp through word of mouth and pursued his associate’s degree at Washtenaw Community College during his stay. Young referred to the camp as a “family.”
Anthony Ramirez, a Camp Take Notice resident, said he went down to the camp because he could not stay at a shelter due to not being a resident of Washtenaw County.
Ramirez expressed the same “family” mentality as Young, saying the camp provided him with heaters, blankets and safety.
“Everybody looks after everybody,” he said.