Reno Police offer assistance to homeless at Pickett Park

Grant Denton with the Reno Ambassadors helps Shelley Bellamy, who was kicked out the park today with nowhere to go. Image: Bob Conrad.
Grant Denton with the Reno Ambassadors talks with Shelley Bellamy, who was kicked out the park today with nowhere to go. Image: Bob Conrad.

The Reno Police Department and city staff were at Pickett Park this cleaning up homeless encampments and offering the homeless resources in advance of a planned “citizens arrest” of the homeless at the park.

The RPD officer on the scene said that they were offering them assistance “to defuse a situation.”

There were no citations or mandates to move, RPD clarified this afternoon.

The situation: The Quality of Life (QOL-Reno) group announced its plan to arrest people at the park and detain them for violating city ordinances, as first reported by ThisisReno. That announcement sparked outrage online, and a counter-demonstration was quickly planned.

QOL-Reno, however, announced this morning that it was canceling its planned arrests, citing RPD’s actions as a success.

Homeless advocates criticized police.

“Why do we always defuse the situation at the expense of the most vulnerable?” asked Jennifer Cassady with the Reno Initiative for Shelter and Equality.

The Reno Police Department said that there were trucks full of garbage at Pickett Park. Image: Bob Conrad.
The Reno Police Department said that there were trucks full of garbage at Pickett Park. Image: Bob Conrad.

J.D. Skinner, who arrived at the park this morning, at one point raised his voice at an RPD officer.

“I just found it pretty unfortunate that some seemingly rightwing organization is going to make a public post about doing citizens’ arrests tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. and there was a huge mobilization by the actual people of Reno to resist that and to make a stand against that,” he told ThisisReno. “It seems really unfortunate that what actually happened is, the day before…the City of Reno Police Department and the City of Reno came out here the day before all this stuff was supposed to happen and displaced these people before the right-wingers could actually do it.

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“So tell me, who’s the one doing the bidding of the right-wingers? The police department, clearly. I’m sitting here right now fucking witnessing it. That’s not cool,” he added.

One woman, who had amassed a large amount of property at Pickett Park, had no place to go this morning. She also has a cat, which means she is unable to stay at the homeless shelter.

“It’s a community problem,” said Shelley Bellamy, who said she’s been living at the park for the past four months. “I’d say I have a spot for approximately four months. I could pay rent if it wasn’t so astronomical.”

Grant Denton with the Reno Ambassadors, and Councilmember Neoma Jardon, showed up to help Bellamy.

After a series of phone calls, they were able to secure a space for her belongings.

“Neoma got her a hotel room with the help of Fahrah Eels,” Denton said. “And I was able to get all of her belongings into storage with the help of the Reno works program.

“Ambassadors will be checking up on her three to four times daily. And our outreach specialist is working on finding her a more sustainable solution for her housing issues and mental illness management.”

Counter-event still on

Counter-protestors said the event is still scheduled for tomorrow.

“The response from the community is truly overwhelming and I am so proud this morning,” said one of the event organizers, Alex Alcantar. “Let’s make sure we use this opportunity to show kindness, thoughtfulness, and positivity.  You all have created this. You all own this. You are all doing your community proud. Thank you.”

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Organizers are also requesting donations:

“Those interested in the event will gather Saturday morning at Pickett Park to hand out bags filled with necessary supplies, hygiene products, clothing, food, and coffee (donated by Starbucks) to those in need at the park before organizing satellite deliveries to homeless communities around the Reno and Sparks area,” they said.

Just about everyone at the park expressed frustration with the situation.

CORRECTION: The Reno Police Department later today clarified that they did not kick out people from the park but rather offered them assistance to move.

Bob Conrad
About Bob Conrad 1129 Articles
Bob Conrad is co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company. He also works part time for the University of Nevada, Reno.

11 Comments

  1. The money’s at the top and the poor and down-and-out are at the bottom – and more and more poor people just like them are falling into the same poverty hole. Our efforts to do anything about it have been anemic at best and pathetic at worst. Unless our national, state and local governments offer more than lip service at solving this huge emergency it’ll only get worse. There are new housing technologies erupting all over Europe, and it’s starting to move across the U.S. Companies like Guerdon Modular Buildings are creating three and four story modular mid-risers that can be erected at slightly more than half the price of a low end single family home per unit and they can be ready for move-in in less than 90 days. 100 units in 90 days! Stick built American traditional subdivisions are LAST CENTURY. Wake up and smell the obvious. Here’s a peek at the future of affordable housing: https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2019/03/05/why-the-city-wants-some-affordable-housing-units-to–stack-up-like-legos–# and https://www.guerdonmodularbuildings.com/ It’s worth learning about. Ozzie and Harriette don’t live here any more.

  2. I think maybe when one of these people who think conducting a citizens arrest for being homeless got citizens arrested for throwing something on the ground at spitting on the sidewalk they might think twice about what a stupid move they want to make. Remember it not against the law to be homeless.

  3. I’d like to see some proof about the $100k/yrly/per person that Seattle spends.
    Also, proof of how Utah is sending “hundreds” of people to Reno.

  4. Interesting that Salt Lake City is sending them here. People there were wondering what happened to hundreds that disappeared from a small area downtown literally overnight. Nevada used to use this hot potato approach, too, until we were sued by California and had to pay. Maybe we should sue Utah.

  5. We should go back to long-term psychiatric facilities where everyone who is unable to make choices that keep them healthy such as living indoors and not abusing substances is forced to go. Whether their mental issues are drug-induced or genetic, all people unable to care for themselves, should be locked in a secure facility for their own safety. It is sad, but drugs are so widespread and people have done such significant damage to their brains that we need to go back to the same solution for these people that was used years ago- the insane asylum- because leaving them to their own devices is cruel and dangerous.

  6. Thank you very much for your comment. When I saw that it was Pickett Park-I was horrified–this is in a busy area-there are 4 streets around it and it is across the street from Renown-a 100 people camped there? A disaster waiting to happen

  7. Are most of you aware that Utah is providing their homeless with bus tickets to Reno to obtain our resources? We, the tax payers, are paying for this problem now that the Mayor gave tax credits to developers that will build them little enclosures. My husband walks by those little enclosures once a month in the Bay Area. They do not stay in them, but all around them in tents. We live in a society with rules for a reason and everyone, even the sick and addicted must learn to follow those rules or our cities will look like L.A. and the Bay Area. Jeff Church, who has worked with the homeless has some different solutions to the problem as does the young man, who used to be homeless, that spoke to a lunch group I attended about doing citizens arrests and bringing the issue front and center. We can not continue to do what has failed in other cities and expect a different outcome. Seattle spends $100,000/ homeless person/year on the problem and it continues to get worse.

  8. I am surprised and mad that Ms Jennifer Cassady calls the homeless “most vulnerable”?????They can sleep,trash in public.They are offered shelters,food for free.They are getting free medical care-and still vulnerable because they do not want to work and obey the rules????City must be cleaned and I am very happy that finally some active and responsible citizens taking care of that mess!!!!!!

  9. Then put them in your backyard or in YOUR home Mr Skinner. The fact that you are yelling at RPD for helping these people move before a confrontation happens is disgusting. Right wing, NO, quit using your hateful political views to harass people. Shows your arrogance and ignorance when you make it political, its a people issue MR Skinner, not a Trump one like you would love to make it. I dont care for him either but dont feel the need to make situation worse by using our president as a scapegoat, really proves what your motives are, this is our town, not Trump’s. Get a clue ! Winter is coming, where is your solution Mr Skinner, sounds like you have a LOUD voice but no offerings for solutions. How convenient for YOU, how sad for the homeless.

  10. The park is for public enjoyment. When 100 people bring all their stuff and make camp, it no longer is a place of public enjoyment. For those that are protesting, take them home to your front and back yards. I am all for a more permanent solution, but not at the expense of taxpayer funded lands.

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