INDIANAPOLIS - Homeless people living in a makeshift camp under a bridge in downtown Indianapolis were forced by police to pack up their belongings and move out Monday morning. Just before noon, four people were arrested after they refused orders to evacuate the area.
The camp has been the focus of complaints for years but now, city officials say CSX Transportation, which owns the bridge, hasn’t been able to inspect it for a year because of the maze of tents and potential biohazards sitting below.
Maurice Young, a man who many in the group considered to be their leader, was arrested because he wouldn't leave the area. Police said he faced a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of traffic.
Another man known as Carolina said the thought of leaving the homeless camp was a hard pill to swallow.
“They (are) gonna do what they said they (are) gonna do,” Carolina said. “I've moved half of my stuff. I'm going to stay around to see what happens just in case we do go to jail. I think it shouldn't have to come down to it."
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) served an eviction notice last Tuesday to the 67 people living in the controversial camp. Sunday, several people were packing up and leaving before they had to be forced out.
“That's another important reason that we need to come in and clean up the space: To make sure that it's safe for inspectors and folks in the neighborhood and businesses around that area," Indianapolis Department of Public Works spokesman Scott Manning said.
Despite the demands to leave Young said the homeless men and women plan to make a stand.
“We represent the homeless in Indianapolis. There's far more that happens here, and we help far more people than most understand,” Young said. “I think it's important we make this stand because in the past, it's always been this game of ‘hide the homeless’ and that needs to come to an end."
The homeless aren't sure where they'll live next, but the hope is that something can be worked out with the city to allow the camp to stay.
Homeless organizations said the eviction was an opportunity to get people off the streets and into the services they need.