CHARLESTON, W.Va. — City Council rejected a proposed resolution Monday regarding police making arrests of unhoused people during the Charleston Sternwheel Regatta.

The final vote was 23-1 against the proposal.

The resolution, originally proposed by Councilman Joe Solomon, was intended to put a halt on the police enforcement on homeless residents in Charleston who violate city code, specifically speaking on staying in public parks past the time the parks close.

The resolution stemmed from the 16 arrests that were made in Charleston close to or during the time of last year’s Regatta.

Council discussed the terms and potential roadblocks of the resolution for well over an hour Monday night, with members of both sides speaking up.

Emmett Pepper

“The resolution that we had to talk a lot about tonight, I think had a lot of problems,” Councilman Emmett Pepper said after the resolution was denied. “It seems like most of the issues that the sponsors had with enforcement really apply year-round. I don’t know why they were singling out this one week.”

Those comments sparked responses by multiple spokespeople and council members referring to Charleston’s Coordinated Addiction Response Effort (CARE), and how their efforts to help people across the city get help where they need it.

A spokesperson in support of the city’s CARE program, said that it’s clear that the City of Charleston works to get people the care and help they need.

“If we want to talk about expanding CARE services, that’s a whole different thing, but to suggest they are not doing the maximum effort in meeting people exactly where they are and working toward delivering better solutions is just false and a slap in the face to the work they do daily.”

Amy Shuler Goodwin

Council member Chad Robinson added that the resolution was a slap in the face to the city’s officers.

“This is not a slippery slope,” Robinson said. “This is a slap in the face to the officers that man the streets of the City of Charleston, it’s a slap in the face. We cannot sit here and tell our officers, our municipal court, what to do and what not to do.”

Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said Charleston has cared for the homeless.

“It upset me so bad to see this resolution,” Goodwin said. “It’s not because I don’t think that we are doing what’s right, I know we are, but I know how much we care, and I know how hard it was to build this.”

The Regatta begins Wednesday.

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