The Bloomingtonian

Seminary Park homeless camp dismantled

December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: Members of the Bloomington Police Department pack up tents to take them to a city storage facility where the property can be reclaimed after Seminary Park was cleared out Wednesday night. The BPD and social workers arrived in the park around 10 p.m. to tell people camping overnight that they could stay in Wheeler Mission overnight, but they needed to leave. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: Mary Jane Hoene tries to figure out where she will go for the night after the BPD and social workers arrived in the park to tell campers they can go to Wheeler Mission, but can’t stay in the park overnight. Some others helped Hoene load her property into a vehicle so they could find another place to camp. Bloomington Police Department resource officers and social workers arrived at the park around 10 p.m. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

Representatives of the Bloomington Police Department, along with social workers, arrived at a homeless camp in Seminary Park just around 10 p.m. Wednesday night to tell a group of campers they were being offered a place to sleep overnight at Wheeler Mission, but they couldn’t stay in the park.

Social workers went from tent to tent politely informing the campers they would need to leave the park by 11 p.m., and that their property would be stored. They were informed they could later get their items back from the city. A Bloomington transit bus was parked nearby on S. College near Kroger to take anybody needing a ride to Wheeler Mission.

A source at the scene, who wished to remain anonymous told The Bloomingtonian that aside from the threat of COVID, which hadn’t yet been a serious problem, there is a concern as temperatures turn much colder this winter, those still living in tents would face catching pneumonia or getting frostbite. “Nobody should live like this,” the source said.

Of the dozen or more in the camp, only one took the offer to stay at Wheeler Mission for the night, and two took an offer to go to the Stride Center. Others loaded up their property into cars, or simply took the items they could carry and walked off into the darkness after declining the offer of shelter for the night.

Mary Jane Hoene, who spoke to The Bloomingtonian Tuesday, expressed frustration at being displaced from the park. Several others who had been camping with Hoene helped her load her property into a car, and they said they would find another place to camp for the night. “We lost,” said Hoene.

An evidence technician from the Bloomington Police Department carefully photographed tents, and groups of items, which were then loaded onto a trailer by BPD officers, and taken to a city storage facility.

“No one wants to tear these people’s stuff up,” said a member of the Bloomington Police Department, who added, “Nobody wants to hurt these people.”

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department can be contacted by those wanting to collect their items at a later time.

The Bloomington Parks board voted 3-1 Tuesday against a policy that would have banned camping in public parks in day time hours without a permit, however, camping overnight is already prohibited.

Many Bloomington community members expressed frustration during the meeting, which took place virtually over Zoom.

Seminary Park closes at 11 p.m. according to an already existing city ordinance.

Many community members who once frequented Peoples Park migrated to Seminary Park after police cleared it out several years ago, and signs were placed along Kirkwood to discourage giving money to panhandlers. An anti-homeless Indiana University student started a petition against the homeless after complaining he had to see people experiencing homelessness in Peoples Park.

A homeless camp was briefly on the sidewalk along Kirkwood, but that was cleared out in the summer of 2017 after a rash of overdoses.

Community members began to react Thursday morning to the dismantling of the camp, and community activist Vauhxx Booker sent the following statement to the Bloomingtonian:

https://www.facebook.com/vauhxx/posts/10223439492753585

The Bloomingtonian has video that will be posted later, and this story will be updated if more information becomes available.

December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: Bloomington Police Resource officers and social workers from Centerstone arrive at Seminary Park just after 10 p.m. to tell a group of people experiencing homelessness they can stay at Wheeler for the night, but will need to leave the park. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: A man who is experiencing homelessness sleeps in his tent in Seminary Park Wednesday night as the BPD and social workers arrive. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: A sign for panhandling and some food items are left on a stone wall at Seminary Park Thursday. Bloomington Police Department resource officers and social workers arrived at the park around 10 p.m. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: A woman walks past a bus carrying her property after Bloomington Police Department resource officers and social workers arrived at in Seminary Park around 10 p.m. Campers in the park were offered a place to stay overnight at Wheeler Mission but only one took the offer, and two others went to stride. Everybody else either left in vehicles or walked away into the night. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: A member of the Bloomington Police Department shines a flashlight on a tent. Bloomington Police Department resource officers and social workers arrived at the park around 10 p.m. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: Tents are left behind in Seminary Park. Bloomington Police Department resource officers and social workers arrived at the park around 10 p.m. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: A pair of shoes are left behind in Seminary Park after the BPD cleared out of the area Thursday morning. Bloomington Police Department resource officers and social workers arrived at the park around 10 p.m. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: A marker shows the place that was the center of the first building at Indiana University about 200 years ago, but is now a place where some of the city’s homeless pitched tents this winter. 2020 was is Indiana University’s bicentennial, but is also the year of a pandemic that has disrupted life in America. Bloomington Police Department resource officers and social workers arrived at the park around 10 p.m. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: Members of the Bloomington Police Department pack up tents to take them to a city storage facility where the property can be reclaimed after Seminary Park was cleared out Thursday morning. The BPD and social workers arrived in the park around 10 p.m. Wednesday night to tell people camping overnight that they could stay in Wheeler Mission overnight, but they needed to leave. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: Members of the Bloomington Police Department pack up tents to take them to a city storage facility where the property can be reclaimed after Seminary Park was cleared out. The BPD and social workers arrived in the park around 10 p.m. to tell people camping overnight that they could stay in Wheeler Mission overnight, but they needed to leave. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: Members of the Bloomington Police Department pack up tents to take them to a city storage facility where the property can be reclaimed after Seminary Park was cleared out. The BPD and social workers arrived in the park around 10 p.m. to tell people camping overnight that they could stay in Wheeler Mission overnight, but they needed to leave. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: The Bloomington Police Department packs up camping gear and personal items after a homeless camp in Seminary Park was cleared out Wednesday night. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
December 9, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana: Members of the Bloomington Police Department pack up tents to take them to a city storage facility where the property can be reclaimed after Seminary Park was cleared out Wednesday night. The BPD and social workers arrived in the park around 10 p.m. to tell people camping overnight that they could stay in Wheeler Mission overnight, but they needed to leave. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

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