Homeless wars

Dateline: Wed 05 Sep 2007

Are the big city's street people becoming more aggressive? Or is it the police who are acting out?

Curious questions, especially since the Indiana Civil Liberties Union has filed a suit in federal court on behalf of Michael Glover, 47, who, according to the Star, has been homeless off and on for 10 years and has a criminal history: low-level felony sexual battery, theft and misdemeanor domestic battery.

Glover's suit -- which he initiated himself -- indicates he was simply sitting at Soldiers and Sailors Monument with two backpacks when he was hustled off by an Indiana War Memorials Commission police officer. This happened to him twice. The second time, he was cited and told to stay away from the Cirle and any Downtown parks and properties operated by the War Memorial.

OK, it sounds draconian, but frankly Glover's response also seems severe. When a well-known Downtown street singer was hassled by police in advance of some big Downtown confab, he complained to the Star and got some favorable publicity. In fairness, the difference between the street singer and Glover is that the former earns his living and is not a nuisance. In fact he's beloved Downtown.

Based on what I'm hearing, the tension between the street guys and the cops will get worse before it gets better. The Wheeler Mission crowd spilling on the sidewalks often seems out of control; I'm told they use the dumpsters outside the Front Page and Cord Camera to relieve themselves at night. Wonder how the Indian Garden restaurant, that recently opened in that block, will respond? A new tapas bar also located near the Wheeler, at Delaware and Ohio.

Can't we all get along? Is there a solution to these issues? Yes: Mental health treatment centers, addiction services and jobs. There is a lot to be said for the dignity of work.

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