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Photo courtesy of Tara Bassett/Facebook

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Louisville Metro Police Department has apologized for clearing a homeless camp in the underpass near Market and Hancock Streets. 

In a statement Friday evening, LMPD spokeswoman Elizabeth Ruoff said the department cleared the homeless encampment, displacing seven people there. 

Ruoff said when the department "recognized the error," they went back to the camp with 502 Livestreamer Tara Bassett and Feed Louisville, an organization that provides meals and other supplies to the city's homeless, "to replace tents, tarps, warmth materials, along with moving personal items for those on site and those being temporarily housed elsewhere." 

However, Feed Louisville co-founder Donny Greene, who was at the scene with Bassett, disputed Ruoff’s statement in a Facebook post responding to the incident

"At least 9 tents and everyone’s belongings were destroyed and removed," he wrote in the post. "... LMPD did not replace all of the belongings or almost any of the belongings destroyed today. That is a lie." 

Sources told Bassett that it was supposed to be a cleaning, and not a clearing. The source called it an "egregious mistake, a horrible miscommunication."

"Peoples' lives were disrupted and all of their stuff was thrown away on what's going to be the coldest night of the year so far," Bassett said in a Facebook live video.

Ruoff on Saturday morning said the department had no further comment. 

Greene said "orders to destroy and throw away everything" came from LMPD's Downtown Area Patrol division as "direct retaliation" for officers "and the division as a whole being called out publicly for civil and human rights violations, assaulting individuals and stealing from the houseless population downtown."

"Only one persons belongings were saved, only because I arrived on the scene as the city and LMPD were finishing and got into a shouting match with the officer on the scene," he continued. 

After the officer left the scene, Greene said he put a homeless person at the camp in his car to warm up and inspected third-degree burns on their hand. He said he had begun putting together a spare tent the person had on the grass off the sidewalk when officers Jessica Morrison and Robert Yoshioka with LMPD's homeless mobile response unit arrived at the scene. 

"They informed both me and the houseless person that he would be subject to arrest if we placed the tent where we were setting up," Greene wrote. "So he & I agreed to move him and his belongings to Jackson (Street)." 

While Greene worked to set up the tent in the new location, he said officers put the person's belongings into a police pickup truck and moved them to the area. 

"The officers left blankets and sterno for for this individual while others from Feed Louisville arrived. Then the officers left," he wrote. "We finished setting things up and took this person to the ER at Norton to be treated for his burns while one of our people sat in their vehicle and watched his belongings for over 3 hours."

The temperature was expected to dip down to 14 degrees overnight.

In her statement, Ruoff said LMPD "takes full responsibility for the miscommunication leading to these circumstances and we apologize for this error, which was ours, not that of the city’s Office for Resilience and Community Services or others providing homeless services."

"We are committed to building relationships with our city’s most vulnerable," she added, "and we are working on new standard operating procedures to ensure these situations do not arise in the future."

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