Mary Lawson takes her five-year-old great-grandson Colt Lawson to Fountain City Park several times a week.
“There’s a lot of homeless but I have not noticed any today. So I think it’s getting cleared up,” she said.
Lawson says she has noticed the extra police presence in the area since multiple incidents have happened in several parks in the last month.
Down the street from Edgewood Park, Norah Finnell was watching her 3-year-old Cora and 5-year-old Micky on the playground.
“Caswell Park is actually closer to us and there are a lot of people that kind of set up to live there here at the park. And I mean they need a place to live in the meantime and seek shelter but after 10 a.m. when people start wanting to go to the park, it’s like time to get up and move out. This is not what this is intended for,” Finnell said.
She has had to have tough conversations with her kids while at her local parks.
“We found a knife at Caswell and we thought it’s only a matter of time that we find even more dangerous paraphernalia,” she said. “At Parkridge Park, I have seen hypodermic needles and I had to show my kids them. I said, if you see a needle if you see something like this here, do not touch it. Go and get an adult and I didn’t want to have a conversation with a four-year-old about that.”
These parents say it is more than just a safety issue. It is a homeless issue.
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“It is the parent’s responsibility to protect their children. What would I like to see done? Places for the unhoused to go in the meantime when it is the hours of children’s playtime. Places for them to dispose safely of their things,” Finnell added.
The Knoxville Police Department says if you see anything suspicious to trust your instincts and call them immediately.