Connect with us

Local News

Around 12 individuals evacuated from unhoused encampment behind Wheeler Mission Thursday



Bloomington, Indiana – On Thursday, volunteer organizations removed about a dozen people from an unsheltered camp behind Wheeler Mission.

Indiana Recovery Alliance representative Trin Piedra said via text message that she and representatives from other organizations, such as the city’s Brighten B-Town initiative and HealthNet Bloomington Health Center, worked for over eight hours to move the encampment’s residents and their belongings to undisclosed locations throughout Bloomington.

Piedra added that the city removed any remaining structures after people were evacuated and filled in any damp ground at the encampment site with machines and gravel.

“When I left my boots were caked with mud, and both my feet were soaked from the top,” Piedra said.

At the encampment on Thursday morning were Bloomington Police Department Chief Michael Diekhoff and Mayor Kerry Thomson.

“Unfortunately, we did not receive recommendations about long-term rehousing, but discussions are still ongoing,” Piedra said.

Since Thomson took office on January 1st, the city has removed two encampments. Up to twelve persons were displaced on January 4 as the city evicted an unhoused campsite near the intersection of Fairview Street and Patterson Drive.

AssociatedThe city will relocate the homeless camp behind Wheeler Mission. Thursday On January 4, the city dispersed yet another camp.

In addition, starting in August 2023, the city started implementing a rule that forbade the use of tents and other enclosed structures in Bloomington public parks during the day.

The decision to remove the campsite is related to two killings that have happened at the location in the last two months, according to an email from Angela Van Rooy, the city’s temporary director of communications.

Shaquille Phillips, who was found decomposing in a stream bed close to Wheeler Mission on December 7 after suffering injuries from a machete attack, was apprehended by authorities on December 8. A woman was detained by Bloomington police last week about the shooting death of 52-year-old Curis Butler, who was shot in a tent during the encampment on January 9.

“The encampment behind Wheeler Mission has posed significant safety concerns for some time,” Van Rooy said. “Ensuring that everyone in our community is safe is our top priority, thus a decision was made to clear the encampment.”

While she did not mention any particular measures, Van Rooy stated that city employees and neighborhood service providers have been collaborating to create a long-term plan to assist those who are displaced in moving into permanent homes.

Thomson informed the city council on Wednesday night that she is working with leaders from different religious communities to maybe offer volunteer resources and a place to stay. She did stress, though, that volunteers working through church communities might lack the security and de-escalation training and expertise needed to offer the required long-term solutions.

“Our shelter providers don’t have adequate supply right now and the multifaith team, they were very clear that their volunteers don’t have the skills yet to do that either,” Thomson said during last night’s meeting. “So, we need to approach this with care; there’s not an easy solution.”

On January 19, the city placed a criminal trespass notice outside the camp. The original deadline for trespass notice removal was 5 p.m. on Monday. Individuals were required to remove themselves and all of their belongings from the property within 72 hours. Van Rooy claimed that the clearance wasn’t issued until Thursday due to the recent, severe weather.

AssociatedWoman detained on Friday in the murder of an unhoused camp in Bloomington The 41-year-old lady is accused of felony murder.

By the criminal trespass notice, those who disobeyed demands to leave the campground risked being arrested.

In an email, BPD Capt. Ryan Pedigo stated that no one was taken into custody at the campground on Thursday.

The letter further indicated that any goods left at the encampment site may be seized, temporarily stored, or disposed of by the city; however, it makes no mention of where these belongings are being kept or how individuals can get access to them. The city may dispose of any property that is filthy, perishable, poses a risk to public health or safety, is judged illegal, or may be illegal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *