WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) As a hearing began in U.S. District Court over a protective order regarding the homeless camps, several dozen people gathered outside the federal courthouse, chanting, praying and holding signs.
They chanted “Fight poverty not the poor,” “Jesus was homeless,” “Help not handcuffs” and “Services not sweeps.”
A member of the clergy read from the Bible.
Peaceful protesters ranged in age from 5 to their 70s.
Several said they currently are—or have been—homeless.
Chants would erupt, including “Housing yes, evictions no.”
Many passing drivers honked their horns, and the protesters waved and applauded.
Nic Cochran, advocate for the homeless, said if the homeless camps are bulldozed, those who live there will lose cherished personal possessions and vital documents like government IDs.
He said many homeless people have experienced childhood traumas that have left them battling mental illness or addiction.
Kate Marshall of the House of Hagar said many shelters have limits on who they will accept, barring those with criminal histories or addictions.
Meanwhile, inside the federal courthouse, a judge heard arguments in the ACLU’s suit seeking a protective order to stop the city from tearing out the camps.
Currently, city officials have said four camps are slated for removal on September 18.
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