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On Monday, December 13, working people on the south side of Indianapolis intervened to provide for houseless residents after a City-County Councillor called the police on them instead.
According to a post from Indy Food Drop, a group that regularly provides food to people living in a camp located by the interstate off-ramp by Raymond and Shelby Streets, Democrat City-County Councillor Frank Mascari called the IMPD Homeless Unit to attempt to remove the residents from their camp. Mascari has been the councillor for the district covering the camp’s location since 2012, having “spring boarded to a seat” on the council as the owner of a jewelry store in Beech Grove.
Hope Packages, assembled and donated by students at Christel House Watanabe High School at Manual near the site of the camp, were distributed to camp residents prior to the speak out.
Over a dozen people gathered on the corner, holding a banner and placards reading “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Mascari” and “Housing is a human right: House the people now!” Organizers from Hope Packages and the Indianapolis branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation read speeches condemning Mascari and the capitalist system that prioritizes using housing as a means for profit over fulfilling human needs by using them to house people.
One speaker denounced Mascari’s call to the police and used it to expose capitalism’s failures. “We can’t call 911 and expect someone to come out with lights and sirens to bring food to people who are starving. We can’t call 911 to get someone living on the street housed that same night. We can’t do these things because the police don’t work for us, or protect and serve the people. The police work for the owning class and exist to protect their property. We can’t call 911 to get someone housed because the police exist so the landlords can get them to come throw us out on the street! That’s a crime against the people!”
In a city that has more than 10,000 abandoned and vacant homes laying unused and going into disrepair, there is a clear failure of local government when thousands of people try to survive against the elements into the second winter of the pandemic without houses. That failure is all the more criminal when the government’s political misleadership calls the police as if they will simply “clean up” a “mess” instead of taking any sort of action to help the people in question. It is clear that only the organized struggle of working people is capable of building a just society.