Calling their homeless mission an “outreach” rather than a “sweep” or “crackdown,” Memphis Police officers hit the streets Wednesday seeking out homeless people in the Midtown and downtown area.
Though homeless people and advocates feared widespread arrests, the police took no homeless people into custody. According to a Memphis Police spokesperson, only five homeless people were encountered. All five were referred to Lighthouse Ministries, and four took the shelter up on the offer.
Police visited 33 homeless encampment sites, but 28 of them had already been cleared of bedding and possessions when police arrived. The police cleared the other five encampments, tossing mattresses and other materials. Those five sites were located at Danny Thomas and Jefferson, Crump and I-240, Madison and Danny Thomas, 128 Adams, and I-240 and Third Street.
Despite the lack of arrests, homeless advocates like Brad Watkins from the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center, remain disappointed at the police department's targeting of the homeless. Watkins has said that police pressure on the homeless will likely push them into other neighborhoods to the north and south of Midtown.
On Friday, December 11th at 6 p.m., the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center is holding a public meeting at First Congregational Church (1000 S. Cooper) in response to the Memphis Police Department's homeless initiative.