By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The appearance this week of a bright, orange fence and “No Trespassing” signs haven’t deterred a community of homeless people camped along South Gloster Street.
Campers told the Daily Journal on Thursday that they weren’t asked to leave and don’t intend to.
City Chief Operations Officer Darrell Smith said the fence and signs were erected by the maintenance manager for the property, which is owned by the Hancock family.
He said it’s meant to prevent vehicles from entering the area and causing damage to the land.
Family member Doyce Deas said Thursday she hadn’t been told of the fence or the signs but noted her mother holds the title and could have made the decision without her knowledge.
About one dozen people have been living for months in tents pitched on the north bank of Town Creek behind Wendy’s. They say The Salvation Army rejected them because they can’t or won’t follow its strict rules regarding alcohol use and daily job hunts.
City leaders had discussed the encampment last month, citing concerns about its effect on the business climate as well as the well-being of the residents. Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said the community should relocate, but Deas said she thought they should be allowed to stay.
Police Chief Tony Carleton said the population hasn’t caused trouble thus far.