EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Police outfitted in helmets and shields have taken to a blocked-off section in Union Plaza for night trainings prompting concern among residents in the area.
Union Plaza residents say the El Paso Police Department has conducted trainings at night for about a month, sometimes leaving as late as 9 p.m.
The fenced-off area is where the city proposes on building a multipurpose performing arts and entertainment center. The project has been a controversial one as residents and historic preservationists have pushed back against the proposal.
For now, an injunction against demolishing the buildings is in place due to a lawsuit in El Paso County contesting whether the city has taken account of what may be underneath the neighborhood.
“I am not against anyone but what I don’t understand why they can go through there,” Antonia Morales, a resident on the street said. “Why are we closed off and they can enter and come out?”
Morales is one of two still living on Chihuahua street. She and her neighbor have called on the city to open the street and leave the buildings fenced off.
KTSM 9 News learned of a training on Wednesday night and witnessed some of what Morales has seen.
At times, police can be heard reenacting scenarios where an individual is barricaded and what appears to be instances where they deal with large crowds. It’s been a few years since police officers have been seen with heavy equipment in the neighborhood.
The last time was when residents and community organizers took to Chihuahua Street to prevent the destruction of buildings, back in 2017. For a little more than three years, the street has been closed off – enough for grass to be growing through cracks in the road.
The city, mayor’s office and police department have been contacted for comment on the story.