NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Benches moved from the sidewalk along Church Street and 6th Avenue North has led some homeless people at to believe it was a tactic to remove them from the area.
Howard Allen told NewsChannel 5 he saw the move as a way to keep him and others from sleeping at Church Street Park.
"We have no place to go and we're being criminalized for being homeless," said Allen, a homeless man.
The sidewalks of downtown Nashville are public property. However, parks in the city close at night and sleeping is not allowed on the benches. Homeless people used to sleep on the benches on the sidewalk, but the benches were removed by the park department in early July.
"It's cruelty," said Allen. "It's like a sense of control, because when this park closes at 11:00, that means that they have to go. And they have no place to sit. No place to sit and go to sleep."
The city had a different take. Spokesperson for Metro Public Works Kelly Brockman said the benches were removed because of safety reason.
"This is not only in the interest of pedestrian safety walking through, but also folks sitting on the benches as well," Brockman said."A few years back a person sitting on a bench was killed by a motorist."
On Wednesday, homeless people were still sitting in the park. Some received foot washes from a local organization. Later in the day, another group brought food for the people there.
Allen said he doesn't think life will get easier for homeless there.
"Right now, when you're doing people like this in this city, in the 'It' city, it's nothing to laugh about," said Allen.