Caltrans Worker Accused of Cutting Up Homeless Tents in San Jose

Some South Bay homeless advocates are upset about an encampment that they say was torn apart by a Caltrans worker.

A picture from video shot by one of the camp residents who claim the Caltrans worker seen here was responsible for cutting up tents. Caltrans adamantly denies it.

On June 23, the residents of a homeless encampment along Interstate 280 just off San Jose's Race Street were given a required 72-hours to clear out. The residents accuse a Caltrans worker of using what they called a machete to tear up apart tents well before the deadline.

"He grabs his machete and then just slashes the tent where it's most stable with the poles," said Phillip Russell, a camp resident. "It's firm to where his machete would go right through it, so he made sure it was cut to shreds."

Russell also said the worker slashed the tent owner's bicycle tires. Caltrans denies the accusation, conducted its own investigation and found no evidence the worker destroyed any personal property.

The agency also said it followed all procedures under the supervision of the California Highway Patrol. The CHP referred all calls for comment on the incident to Caltrans.

"Everybody is trying to push it off onto somebody else," said Robert Aguirre, a homeless advocate. "No one wants to take responsibility for it. But the truth will come out eventually and the public needs to know what's going on."

One tent owner, who was not there when his tent was allegedly slashed, said he does not like being treated like a criminal.

Homeless advocates said they are exploring what action to take next.

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