Sunday, February 27, 2011

Homeless in Jackson

(Brian Cullingham in Poindexter Park)
The Jackson Police Department tries to force homeless people out of downtown, which could lead the city in legal trouble.   Brian Cullingham (right) says that patrol officers in Precincts 2 and 5 tell homeless people that they cannot be downtown and tell those coming towards downtown from the north or west to turn around. In October, two officers on Segways chased Cullingham and a friend out of Smith Park when they caught the two men playing chess in the morning, he says.
Sometimes those instructions turn into harassment and eventually arrestment.  Jackson's developers and residents work together to move the local homeless population out of sight.  They do so by reporting any sightings of the homeless loitering around stores and different businesses.  Brent Cox, an organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, organized a meeting of area homeless people in Smith Park, but police officers disrupted the event, saying that they could not meet there.
Cox wanted to avoid litigation but if the problem persist, then he predicts a lawsuit would be made against the city.  The city would then be violating the rights of the homeless.  Cullingham says with the police department being threatened, he has experienced fewer harrasmenta by the police and business owners.

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