Bloomington’s shameful treatment of the homeless

When I was walking down Kirkwood Avenue a few years ago while the homeless encampment was along the iconic street, I observed discarded syringes that had been used to shoot up illegal drugs. Drug use and pooping in public were problems along Kirkwood. Earlier this year, the Monroe County Commissioners directed stronger enforcement of the “no camping” order on the courthouse grounds after people were pooping in the bushes. The city dragged its feet in removing an “Occupy Wall Street” protest that had become a homeless encampment, complete with people (you guessed it) pooping outside in public.

Now we have a homeless encampment at Seminary Square Park, where there have been reports of the same kind of thing – vandalism, illegal drug use and pooping in public. The tent city is right next to the U.S. Post office and a Rally’s, and across the street from a Kroger. Imagine being an underage girl employed at either the restaurant or the grocery store, knowing that is either right next to you or across the street. Do you think you would feel safe? Would you fear for your daughter’s safety?

City government’s parks board, in response to the growing concern over crime, public safety and public health from a homeless encampment at a public park, considered a resolution to ban tents in public parks without authorization from the city. More than two hundred people “attended” the meeting on Zoom, with dozens speaking against the proposed rule change and warned of how it would target and harm the homeless. Of course, sleeping in the park is already against city code. The police department has already failed to enforce the law, so this may well have been little more than ink on paper.

No one is criminalizing being poor or homeless. No one has the “right” to live in a tent and poop on the grass in a public park. It may be true that city residents are not using the park, but employees of local businesses ought to be able to work without fear of what will happen to them when they walk to their cars, and city residents should be able to shop or use the U.S. Post Office without fear of being assaulted by a drug addict. The issue here is public safety and Mayor Hamilton’s disregard of public safety.

At some point, something is going to have to be done and this camp is going to have to be removed. This needs to happen before things get worse. Yes, we should seek to help people as best we can, but that does not include allowing a camp to be a public menace. It is absolutely appalling that some people believe that the “humane” solution is to leave this ghetto the way it is now, rather than enforce the law. This is what it looks like when Politically Correct “compassion” overrules common sense.