ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A week after the city shutdown the New Life Evangelistic Center (NLEC) downtown, several homeless people say police are telling them not to loiter and some have been arrested.
Police Chief Sam Dotson says no one is being arrested for loitering, but says a group of homeless men were arrested for outstanding bench warrants that came to light after a computer check.
Randy Robinson, who is homeless, says he witnessed the arrests and has been told himself by police in recent days not to loiter around the library.
“They’re saying no one is allowed to stand and talk,” Robinson said, “If you’re not walking, or moving along doing something, you will be arrested or the police will be called on you.”
Robinson says a group standing at the corner of 14th and Locust behind the library was approached Tuesday morning by police who told them to disperse.
“Police came up in an SUV and asked them can they move,” Robinson said, “They said police came back five minutes later and locked them up. It was like five or seven of them.”
St. Louis Police released a statement on the arrests:
“No arrests were made due to “loitering,” as loitering is no longer a city ordinance violation. Officers responded to that location and arrested six individuals. Three individuals were arrested for outstanding bench warrants, one for Trespassing, one for Convicted Sexual Offender in a Park and one for Flourishing.”
Before City Hall shut down the shelter, dozens of homeless people spent the day loitering on the sidewalks outside the building at 1411 Locust. Now, those sidewalks are empty and it appears many are spending their days in the parks nearby.