Squatters evicted from Fort Trumbull neighborhood: WTNH-TV8, CT, 9/22/06

By Tina Detelj

The Fort Trumbull neighborhood probably thought all the drama ended when the owners of some disputed homes left this summer. Not so. It seems several homeless people moved in on their heels, and Friday some demonstrators were carried away.

In a show of defiance activist Lauren Canario refused to leave the porch of an abandoned home being boarded up in New London's Fort Trumbull neighborhood to keep homeless people out.

The former Las Vegas woman moved here to join the fight against eminent domain which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Today Canario kept silent and let her body go limp as her husband videotaped her arrest.

The city began boarding up these homes right after homeless people set up camp here. Before her arrest Canario told us what she had seen in recent days.

"I've just seen a tent in the yard and some lights on in the building," Canario said.

A patch of yellowed flattened grass shows where one tent was set up.

There is also evidence in a nearby home that someone had forced their way in. Part of a door jam where the deadbolt goes in has been ripped out.

"I would actually welcome any homeless people to head on down here even though the accommodations are less than luxurious," Canario said.

Canario, who herself is living rent free in a vacant Fort Trumbull building, claims the homeless people were homesteading, not squatting.

"Squatting is being on someone else's land. Homesteading is taking land that no one has. It's pretty much abandoned is not being used."

But this land is going to be used as part of the city's economic development plan. John Brooks, the waterfront development manager, says boarding up these houses was already scheduled, not just a reaction to reports of squatters.

Developers plan to tear down these homes by the end of the year, but first they have to make sure all the asbestos in them has been removed.

WTNH-TV8, CT: http://www.wtnh.com