Picture Stories: Camp Runamuck
This picture story is about a community of homeless and mostly jobless men and women who moved from their previous site underneath the South Water Street Route 195 ramp in Providence. The DOT issued the camp a deadline to vacant the area because the ramp was scheduled to be demolished in early August of 2009. The group of about 30 decided to move underneath the Washington Bridge in East Providence.
While under the bridge the camp became divided when their leader, John Freitas, was arrested for not registering as a sex offender. After two weeks at the new site, the state filed a complaint against the camp for trespassing on state property. After a series of court hearings, both parties came to an agreement to move from the property by Labor Day weekend. When the camp was faced with this deadline, two separate groups with different new sites emerged, Camp Runamuck (the original name) and Camp Provitents. Both groups relocated to different spots in Providence.
Camp Runamuck moved to a wooded site near Roger Williams Hospital in the Elmhurst neighborhood, but after a couple weeks there they were forced to disband by police citing a no overnight camping in city parks law. Camp Provitents was able to secure permission to reside at an empty lot on private property in the West End, but because the property was commercially zoned they were also forced to leave the site by November. No other tent cities have formed in Providence since then, but as the weather warms up there might be a new round of tent pitching.