Battle Brewing Between Homeless and Police

Battle Brewing Between Homeless and Police

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Susan Wood ReportingJust across from the Gateway another conflict is brewing. It's among the homeless, many of whom are already being turned away because the shelter is full.

It's just October, but already a lot of people are being turned away from the Road Home. It's filling up each night. There's a waiting list for both families and single men, so many are left to fend for themselves. In the midst of tough times, some feel they're now being picked on by police.

David Christiansen, Commission for Fair Treatment of Homeless: "Why are they targeting us, the homeless on this corner directly across the street from this mall?"

The city put up no trespassing and no loitering signs right across the street.

Homeless Person:"I sat down on the curb in front of the shelter one day and they gave me a ticket for criminal trespassing for sitting down on the curb."

Nemo, Homeless Person: "You got a lot of people they can't pay for these tickets, so by the time it gets done they end up going to jail for these tickets and all they're doing it walking around."

Police say they are not harassing the homeless; they are protecting the rights of law abiding citizens, including property owners..

Michelle Ross, Salt Lake City Police Dept.: “Are you gonna allow people to come sleep on your front doorstep? You live on the west side, you live in the Avenues. You want them to use your yard as a restroom? Why should we allow it down there just because there's a shelter there? That's what I'm saying."

But this group is determined to fight for a change.

David Christiansen, Commission for Fair Treatment of Homeless: "We'll stand up in numbers and we'll do what it takes to better our situation, but we are not gonna be harassed anymore."

Meanwhile, police say they've already offered to sit down and discuss their concerns to try and reach an understanding.

The group of homeless people walked from the shelter to a mayor's candidate forum at St. Mark's Cathedral tonight to make the point. Next Tuesday they intend to express their concerns before the Salt Lake City Council.

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