CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A decision made by Charleston Mayor Danny Jones to dismantle the Tent City homeless community has gained a lot of heat by several residents.
“His actions are despicable,” said Clark of Putnam County. “This whole fiasco, to me, represents exactly what Danny Jones is as a mayor of Charleston.”
Citizens called in to “580 Live” Wednesday morning to speak out about their concerns that Jones refused to listen to Tuesday night at a city council meeting. The announcement was made earlier in the day during a press conference with reporters.
Jones said the city had to move quick on the decision, even if that meant people would lash out at him.
“You have to do it like we did it. Once again, I’m the bad guy. That’s what you hired me to do,” Jones said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
No warning was given to the folks living at Tent City along the Elk River. Jones said that was so they didn’t end up in court.
“There was a lawyer from Mountain Justice who got down there as we were doing it and he would’ve gone in court and tried to stop us and then we’d have to pay to fight it,” he said.
“He’s getting rid of them. They’re not roaches,” said Brooke Drake of Charleston. “These are real people in our community and he really needs to start thinking about his constituents and how we feel about the people in our own neighborhood.”
Drake took several homeless people in Tuesday night to save them from the cold.
“We made a little camp here on my living room floor. I’m sure some people ended up sleeping outside when it was 11 degrees last night and that’s just not how we should treat people,” she said.
A big message Jones had for citizens upset with his decision was that they should’ve done the same.
“Invite them into your home,” Jones said of a church in Belle that came to Charleston to protest his announcement Tuesday. “They could’ve backed up a church bus, taken those people down and let them move in their church and drink down there.”
Jones said he wanted to remove the people living at Tent City due to safety reasons. He said it wasn’t healthy to keep them there during the recent frigid temperatures.
The timing to dismantle the area could not have been worse, Drake said. With Waste Management and the city overseeing the property for years, she said the issue should’ve been dealt with during warmer months.
“There’s no reason they had to do this on the coldest day of the year. Even Danny Jones said this needed to happen months ago. It was awfully warm months ago. It would’ve been swell for him to have done it then,” she said.
Getting these people back on their feet should start with shelter, Drake said.
“Many of them have just gotten out of jail and don’t know how to transition fully,” she said. “Many of them don’t have IDs or the means to obtain an ID if they’re from out of state. I can’t speak for all of them, but many of them are the people who actually fall through our cracks.”
“A lot of these guys are our veterans that fought and died for our country,” said Jay, another resident. “And then Danny Jones comes along with his bullying attitude, as usual, to put this somewhere else.”
Jones said additional police will be monitoring the site for the next several days. Officers will be intervening if individuals trespass, but he said he hopes that doesn’t happen.