Five arrested at homeless camp by railroad bridge

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Five people were arrested as the homeless camp under the Davidson Street railroad bridge was cleared out Monday.

City officials argued the camp needed to go to make way for bridge inspections. Members of the camp wanted to stay, and their de facto leader, Maurice Young, was one of five people taken away in handcuffs.

Young said he was hoping it wouldn't come to an arrest. "But I am hoping we can still have a conversation," he said.

Some residents in the Irish Hill neighborhood expressed relief.

"There are other victims. And I feel like that's me," said Marco Simpson.

Simpson has lived less than a half-mile down from what was once one of the largest homeless camps in the city.

When new signs were posted last week alerting the 50-plus people still living beneath the CSX railroad tracks to be gone by Monday, Simpson was relieved to hear about it.

"I tried so hard to embrace them," he said.

Simpson said it's the sanitation issues he's been most concerned about. An area just yards away from his home was the community toilet, which was littered with discarded paper and human waste.

"They all are great people, for the most part, I have met. Some of them are mentally ill. The majority of them are sensible people. They've had a home, have had families. A lot of it is by choice," he said.

Turning over his wallet and cell phone, Maurice Young was one of five arrested by police for obstructing traffic Monday morning as police cleared out the camp. The 45-year-old was well-known as the "mayor" of this homeless community. Young argues the city needs to find a better plan to help the homeless in Indianapolis.

Some who live at the camp feel this move was just another excuse by the city to hide the homeless. "They just want to move us from here to there to there to there," said Chris, an Irish Hill resident. "But we still here. And the economy still bad. What are they prepared to do to get it fixed?"

"I like living here because it's the only place I got to go," said homeless camp member "Carolina."

Carolina said he's lived in a tent under the railroad tracks on Davidson Street for the last year. Saturday, he packed up a few of his belongings.  "Clothes, documents and applications," said Carolina.

Meantime, Metro Police say this area will be fenced in on Tuesday. Marco Simpson hopes it stays empty.

"After talking to IMPD and they are going to fence up the area, I can't be more relieved," said Simpson.

Not all the "homes" are gone. A smaller tent area remains.

Police say that property belongs to CSX. The rail company will clean that up in the next few weeks and the inspection project will begin shortly after.

As for where these people moved to, members of several outreach programs were here this morning to help.

This isn't the first time the city has cleared out this area. In 2010, complaints of vandalism, trash and lewd behavior was the reason. Nearby business owners have complained as well.