News Release from Jeremy Reynalds at Joy Junction
Tel: (505) 400-7145
In addition to its regular daytime Lifeline of Hope mobile feeding outreach, a Joy Junction van also circles known homeless hot spots during the night to provide sack lunches, beverages and blankets whenever available.
Joy Junction Founder and CEO Dr. Jeremy Reynalds occasionally joins that nighttime outreach crew.
On July 11 at about 9.30 p.m., Reynalds and two colleagues began the outreach in Albuquerque’s downtown area. They assisted a number of people trying to rest under a building overhang and were about to pull away when an Albuquerque Police Department cruiser showed up.
An officer said that he’d received a call from someone “inside the building,” and everyone had to move on.
Reynalds said, “When I questioned the officer about the presence of people inside at that time of the evening he said, ‘Well, maybe janitors or something. They’re scared to come out.’”
Reynalds said he asked the officer where these people (one of whom appeared to be visibly sick) were supposed to go. According to Reynalds the officer said if Joy Junction didn’t want to take them, that was okay. Reynalds said it wasn’t Joy Junction “didn’t want to,” but the shelter was full. The officer then told Reynalds he didn’t care.
Reynalds said the officer’s attitude was so cold it made him shiver.
Joy Junction Transportation Manager Lisa Woodward said, “They don’t treat them like people. It’s like moving a bunch of chairs out of the way.”
Reynalds said, “Yes, there were no trespassing signs outside the building and apparently the building owners had asked police to ensure no one camped there. I understand that the officer had a job to do, but for a long time to come I will see his flinty, stony face marching around the building telling everyone there they had to leave. It seemed like he was emotionally divorcing himself from the consequences of what he was asking these homeless people to do.”
Reynalds said that just moving homeless people from one place to another does not help alleviate the serious issue of a seemingly ever increasing number of hungry and homeless people in Albuquerque.
Reynalds said he would like to see two things occur. “We need a community conversation/dialogue about the issue of homelessness in our community and how it can best be alleviated or resolved. This is, after all, a community issue.”
He added, “And I’d like APD officers to get special training in dealing with the homeless, as well as having the hours of the excellent COAST (Crisis Outreach and Support) Team extended.”
For more information about APD’s recent homeless initiative, ironically titled “Operation Helping Hand,” in which five people were arrested go to www.kob.com/article/stories/S2679985.shtml
To learn more about Joy Junction’s recent nighttime outreach, go to www.joyjunction.org/nighttime-for-the-homeless/