Police call it a cleanup, but homeless Edmontonians say possessions taken
EDMONTON — The Edmonton police say it was a routine cleanup, but some homeless people in the city say they have lost nearly everything they owned.
Terry Smith, a homeless man who kept his belongings in a shopping cart near the Bissell Centre, says the officers moved in Tuesday and took everyone’s carts, belongings and all.
Smith says they were given very little time to get organized and all he managed to snag were his sleeping bag and backpack.
He says he’s been left without so much as a hoodie or a sweatshirt.
Edmonton police say encampments in the area were getting out of hand and posing a health risk.
A spokesman says the officers worked with the homeless individuals to determine what could and couldn’t be taken away.
But Wallis Kendal of iHuman, a group that works with low-income Edmontonians, says such cleanup operations should be left to social agencies rather than police.
“They need belongings, they need blankets, they need pillows,” Kendal says of the homeless.
“It’s not a police problem, so I would just say they’re in the wrong place — the police — at the wrong time. “Somebody else could have done this in a more compassionate way.”
Officials with the Bissell Centre declined comment, saying they weren’t aware of the incident.
Police say the Bissell Centre asked officers to go in and help.