In a win for civilized society, a judge in Phoenix has ordered the liberal city to clear away a large homeless encampment downtown that has made life dangerous for residents and business owners there.
Judge Scott Blaney said he was not convinced the city would address the issue unless forced to do so.
The ruling paints an almost indescribable portrait of squalor, violence, and disorder in an area known as "the Zone," which the city has essentially yielded to vagrants, prostitutes, and criminals over the past five years.
Residents and business owners say conditions have gotten progressively worse since 2018, when Phoenix stopped enforcing criminal and quality of life ordinances in the area, which stretches between Grant and Van Buren Streets and 7th and 15th Avenues.
Parts of the judge's ruling read like scenes from a horror movie: police have responded to multiple scenes "involving burned or burning human bodies in the Zone, including that of a burned, deceased newborn baby found lying in the street and a deceased man found burned alive in a dumpster."
Business owners and employees "travel in groups" for their safety. The area is blighted by prostitution, violent crime, including homicide, constant break-ins, and public consumption of drugs like fentanyl.
It was also found that organized crime is thriving in the "Zone," with homeless people coerced to rent spots for their tents from gangs.
"Violence is an everyday theme, and there are random fist fights, yelling and screaming, and the brandishing of weapons daily," the ruling says.
The homeless have been known to engage in sex acts in public, and they fill the streets with human waste, creating a "biohazard....that empties into the state’s waterways."
"When it rains, the soil in and around the area is so soaked with urine and human feces that the rain intensifies the smell. Business and property owners do not go outside when it rains because of the puddles full of human urine and feces."
Property owners often "often find intoxicated, unconscious individuals sleeping right up against and/or on the patios of their properties and businesses."
The plaintiffs complained that the city "created, maintained, and/or failed to abate a public nuisance," and the judge agreed - ordering the city to establish safe, civilized conditions no later than November 3.
"In the absence of a court order, City officials will not complete the cleaning of the Zone and will not abate the public nuisance until they have attained the long-term goal of ending homelessness," he wrote.