A battle is brewing over Columbia's proposed homeless plan
By Rob Starkey
Tue, 27 Aug 2013 19:41:40 GMT — COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Opponents of Columbia's proposed homeless plan are making their voices heard. On Tuesday protesters teamed up with the city's homeless marching on main. "Just a group of people that are totally in, lord... Just empathy and compassion for the homeless people," said Tom Turnipseed. The march comes just one day after Turnipseed and protesters were edged out of a meeting with business owners, lawyers and two city leaders in support of the Columbia Cares plan. Police were called and protesters were forced to the sidewalk. While Turnipseed voiced his opinion about being asked to leave he says while waiting outside he found another person who disagrees with the proposed plan. "Every day people the policemen even don't like this, they don't want to do it," adds Turnipseed. "It's a very emotional issue it's an issue we have stumbled over for 30 years in this city," said Councilman Cameron Runyan. Earlier this month City Council voted unanimously to approve a proposal by Councilman Runyan that would open the citys Winter Shelter around the clock for roughly six months. Runyan says at the shelter the homeless can shower, eat, sleep and they'll be paired up with service providers to help get them off the streets. The proposed plan would also beef up police around the business district and the road to the shelter. Police could make arrests under public nuisance laws for loitering and trespassing. Residents will also have a hotline they could call if they spot a homeless person downtown. Opponents say this type of treatment violates human rights and is clearly police profiling. "This Carolina cares, Cameron Runyan's proposal makes downtown a gated community in that if homeless people come down here they'll be arrested," said Turnipseed. They have to abide by the same set of laws that I have to abide by, that everyone else in this city and everyone watching this report has to abide by, the homeless are not exempt from the laws," adds Runyan. The proposal is far from being policy. Some council members who originally voted for the plan are now questioning which parts they voted for. City Council is set to take up the issue on September Third.
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