I-Team 8

City orders people in Monument Circle encampment to clear out by Jan. 12

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — I-Team 8 has obtained video taken on Christmas Eve of mountains of trash that surrounded Monument Circle.

A spokesperson for the Indianapolis government said the trash is the result of good intentions of others feeding the homeless. 

The video shot on Christmas Eve by Chris Spangle shows he and his girlfriend. Neither had been downtown in a while. He thought a trip around the Circle to see the lights on Soldiers and Sailors Monument was in order. He wasn’t prepared for the mess. The sidewalk on the southwest portion of the Circle was like nothing he had ever seen in downtown Indianapolis.

Spangle is the host of the “Now Hear This” radio show of iHeart Media Indianapolis. The show focuses on nonprofits in Indiana.

Spangle said, “Drove through the Circle and were totally shocked by the conditions of the Circle that night, and drove around a second time to take a video and there was a lot of trash specifically outside of the IRT (Indiana Repertory Theatre) and the IPL (Indianapolis Power & Light) building. Lots of people yelling and arguing on that strip of the Circle, and no one else in any other part of the Circle except for on the monument where families were taking photos.”

In his video, trash is piled up along buildings, and groups of people are sleeping and or huddled up in doorways. What caught Spangle’s attention was the amount of trash and the number of people camped under the Hilbert Circle Theatre entrance. In previous years, the entrance would have been packed with people waiting in line for the Yuletide Celebration. 

He says Monument Circle is the crown jewel of downtown, and the mess put millions of dollars invested in the area at risk in addition to the tireless work of Mayor Joe Hogsett for the past six or seven decades. Allowing the Circle to get to this condition, Spangle says, is reprehensible. 

“And so when you have people coming downtown and seeing the conditions that I saw, it really puts that investment and all of that stewardship at risk,” Spangle said. 

Patrick McPherson of the homeless unit of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department says the city cleaned up the area Monday. His unit has kept an eye on the Circle for several months. He says the trash and debris is the culmination of a perfect storm created by holiday giving and the pandemic. Donations of food and clothes to those living and camping around the Circle was overwhelming. 

“You know, you see people in need and you want to help. You know, we all want to have compassion, but it is one of those things that comes with good intentions but, you know, sometimes we have bad outcomes, so the trash has to go somewhere and so it accumulated,” McPherson said. 

 The city has cleaned up the sidewalks and ordered anyone camping at the Circle to leave by Jan. 12.