A fence surrounding Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles, which triggered protests and demonstrations, is coming down two years after it was first installed.  

Initially touted as a temporary barrier that would let the city clear out the park’s homeless encampments and conduct much-needed repairs, the fence quickly became a symbol of the city’s homelessness crisis.  

Two years ago this week, hundreds of protesters clashed with police over the closure of a sprawling homeless encampment at the park. Since then, the city has spent $600,000 to remove tons of trash, repair lighting and bathrooms, and restrict entry points to the park.  

Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez says the barrier will be completely removed by the end of the week. 

“He said that when the fence comes down, there’s going to be 24/7 security,” said Emily Lee, who lives nearby. “So, we just want to make sure he keeps his word and there’s security here once the fence is down … the way it was when the fence was up.”  

Lee, a member of the community organized group, Save the Fence, told KTLA that she would prefer the fence stay up and added that she knows a lot of other people in the Echo neighborhood feel the same.  

“It made the park safe, made the area safer,” Lee said. “When it was down, because we all lived here when it was down as well, it was chaotic, a lot of criminal activity day and night. It was not safe.”  

Save the Fence would like to see a more aesthetically pleasing, permanent fence installed.

“It took a lot of our taxpayer money to make the park clean and safe the way it is,” Lee said. “We already went through how it was, the loud noise, the partying, the criminal activity. There were people dying here, overdosing, rapes, animal abuse. We want to be able to come to the park and exercise and feel safe.”  

This March 24, 2021, file photo, Los Angeles police officers move in to arrest demonstrators in the Echo Park Lake homeless encampment in Los Angeles. California will project journalists from interference by police while covering civil protests under a bill signed into law Saturday, Oct. 9, by Gov. Gavin Newsom. It was the second new law within days with free speech implications. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
This March 24, 2021 file photo shows Los Angeles police officers move in to arrest demonstrators in the Echo Park Lake homeless encampment. (Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)

Not everyone thinks a fence is a good solution. Valerie Zeller used to live in Echo Park.  

“Jails should be fenced in, not parks,” she told KTLA.  

Zeller, who has housing now, said she understands why people feel the fence helped keep the park clean, but said it was just a temporary fix to the greater issue of homelessness.  

“I love that this is gone,” she said. “The fence was a horrible thing, a temporary fix.”  

In a statement, Soto-Martinez’s office said unarmed officers will be available at the park during nighttime hours.