An argument at a government sanctioned homeless camp in Athens this week led to the arrests of the man who supervises the camp and a homeless woman after Athens-Clarke police said an argument erupted into a physical altercation.
The disturbance occurred at the camp located on Barber Street and is supervised by the Athens Alliance Coalition Inc.
The camp, christened First Step, was established in March and is equipped with tents where homeless people are allowed to stay as a temporary housing situation.
Police were called to the camp shortly after 11 a.m. Monday. Officers encountered Charles Hardy, head of the Alliance Coalition, and a woman in a heated verbal argument, according to an incident report. Hardy reported he had been assaulted by two women, who had come to the location to collect their belongings.
That woman had left when police arrived, police said.
The woman's belongings, however, had been placed in a trash bin due to a camp policy that if property is left behind for 72 hours then it will be discarded, Hardy told the officers.
Hardy told police that when he explained the policy to the women they became irate and a 20-year-old woman punched him in the face.
The woman was not present at the scene, but her companion, a 25-year-old woman, told the officer that she and her friend left for a vacation, put a lock on their tent, and reported to a security officer that they planned to return.
Police viewed a security camera video and it shows Hardy and the woman in “each other’s faces” and that when Hardy when raised his hands over his head the woman pushed him. The officer reported that at the time he didn’t have probable cause to seek a warrant for the woman.
However, police were later able to interview the female suspect and she reported she was removing her property from the trash bin when she said Hardy approached and punched her in the face and injured her lip. As they fought, the woman said her mother tried to defend her and that Hardy hit the mother, according to the report.
Police also spoke to witnesses who reported seeing the woman hit Hardy with an open hand.
The investigation resulted in the woman being charged with simple battery and Hardy with two counts of battery. They were both booked into the Athens-Clarke County jail and released on bail less than an hour later.
Athens-Clarke County spokesman Jeff Montgomery said Wednesday he couldn’t comment without first looking into the matter.
Hardy could not be reached at a number provided on the police report and no one answered calls to the Alliance Coalition on Wednesday.
This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Athens homeless camp dispute leads to arrest of camp's supervisor