Five arrested after refusing to leave homeless camp

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INDIANAPOLIS – Five people were arrested after refusing to leave a homeless camp Monday morning. Those arrested were described as activists.

Earlier in the morning, about 20 homeless people were still at the camp located under a CSX train track that needs to be worked on. Police had given a Monday morning deadline for everyone to clear the area.

People who live at the camp say they have few, if any, alternatives.  They say they’re angry that the city is forcing them to leave, because they don’t know where to go. Others don’t want to get involved with law enforcement, and packed up Sunday night. Reginald Smith was one of them. He said he left before the possibility of having to face off with city officials when the 9 a.m. deadline to vacate arrives.

“I don’t like the police, no, no, no, I don’t like no police, no. No, no, no, no, I don’t see them, I don’t like them,” said Smith.

Smith’s life is wrapped in the confines of a tent, perched at the top of a hill next to the CSX train trellis on South Davidson Street near downtown Indianapolis. He said he knows he has to leave, but, where he, and everyone else goes next, is not known.

“I’m pretty much just concerned about me, right now. Everybody else is grown, so, I guess everybody’s got to figure out what they’re going do, that’s all I can say,” Smith said.

The Department of Public works said CSX wants to come in to do some construction work to the stretch of track. Doing so with the homeless camp there at the same time, would be a safety concern.

What’s concerning to the people who call it home is the lack of other places to go. The Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention says there are.

“We hope that we’ve gotten most people who wanna get in to housing or who are ready to get in to some programs already there. With the other individuals, we’ll have the IMPD outreach task force as well as the other outreach teams there ready to take individuals,” said Christine Shepherd.

There are several resources in Indianapolis for people facing homelessness.

Wheeler Mission Ministries provides emergency shelter services and residential programs for men and women as well as addiction recovery programs. Tuesday, Aug. 27 is Wheeler Mission Night at Victory Field with $5 of every ticket sold going to the mission.

HVAF, the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation of Indiana, helps veterans find homes, jobs and addiction recovery programs. HVAF has several housing developments in Indianapolis. 

Back on My Feet Indianapolis is a chapter of the national organization that uses running to help those facing homelessness find a new passion and purpose in life. BOMF helps people find work and permanent places to live. Back on My Feet Indy works with The Wheeler Mission and HVAF to support, motivate and educate those overcoming homelessness. 

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