Boston police officers conducting a sweep on Tuesday dubbed “Operation Clean Sweep” in a troubled area of the city known as “Methadone Mile” oversaw the destruction of several wheelchairs belonging to homeless people.
One man was reportedly living in the street after a car accident which required him to be in a full body cast, according to Raw Story.
“Can we all agree that it is inhumane and cruel and a waste of resources to crush the wheelchairs of people who are living on the street after a car accident in a full body cast?”
Boston police reportedly destroyed three wheelchairs as part of the city’s crackdown on its transient population.
The sweep began August 2 after a corrections officer for the county was allegedly struck during a brawl with several people on the “Methadone Mile,” a stretch of the city where there are a number of addiction clinics and treatment centers.
Many of the homeless population in the area have been the target of the operation as it’s being conducted.
Destroying their wheelchairs is only the latest incident by the city involving trashing possessions of the homeless population during the operation.
One of the wheelchairs destroyed in the sweep was confiscated from a man named Jared, who was hit by a car just last month.
“It was heartbreaking to speak with Jarrod, who lost not only his wheelchair, but everything he owns that he keeps in his backpack,” homeless advocate Cassie Hurd said on Twitter.
Jarrod’s wheelchair was taken and destroyed after he left it “for a minute” even though his friends tried to reason with police not to take it, Hurd told Boston Magazine.
Images of the wheelchairs being destroyed went viral on social media, generating outrage on Wednesday.
“Mass removing homeless people (e.g. human beings) and calling it ‘operation clean sweep’ (the obvious implication being said human beings are trash) is genocidal rhetoric and it’s disturbing no one in Boston government or media feels the need to point this out,” reporter Adam Johnson said, pointing out the historical significance of the operation.
Johnson tweeted the behavior by the city was “cartoon evil.”
Another journalist, Miles Howard, questioned whether the images wold have any impact on the future of “Operation Clean Sweep.”
“The questions at the heart of #OperationCleanSweep are whether there’s dignity in being human (I believe there is) and whether government should honor that intrinsic dignity (I believe it should),” Howard tweeted.
“[Boston Mayor Marty Walsh] has chosen to treat the homeless as subhuman trash. What do you think?””
Boston Police Department spokesman Sgt. John Boyle said he could not confirm the wheelchairs had been destroyed, but said the department would assist anyone who needed a replacement, according to Boston Magazine.