ST. LOUIS – Homeless encampments along the River Des Peres have been at the forefront of a recent battle between residents, the unhoused, and city leaders.

As a bill goes through the City of St. Louis that would make pitching a tent on a public right of way illegal, FOX2 received photos and videos of law enforcement action along the riverfront.

“The reason we are involved is that they are on our property. We get into liability issues, safety issues,” Sean Hadley, a spokesperson for Missouri Sewer District said.

He said MSD noticed tents on the portion of River Des Peres they own. He said the unhoused were living close to MSD’s equipment, which is a safety concern. When MSD noticed this, it contacted St. Louis Metro Police Department Tuesday to help with enforcement of having the unhoused move off MSD’s property.

“If they are on our property, we notify the police department and have the police department come in. They are our enforcement for this, and they will talk to them. We don’t want anyone arrested,” Hadley said. “We just want to make sure they are on the public right of way so they can get access from the city.”

Hadley said MSD had The St. Patrick’s Center come to the riverfront after everyone was gone to make sure no valuables were left behind before they sent in heavy machinery to clear the area.

While using heavy machinery to clear MSD’s property Wednesday, park rangers were spotted across River Des Peres handing out orange police tags informing the homeless they needed to move. MSD said they do not own the property across the river, along River Des Peres Boulevard.

When Fox 2 contacted Mayor Tishaura Jones’ spokesperson, Nick Dunne on Wednesday, he said the city does not own that property and said city officials had no involvement with handing out the enforcement notices.

“I’ve got nothing and nowhere to go and I just wish that they would do something,” one of the unhoused living along River Des Peres Blvd said. He said he was forced to move on Wednesday. He said the city needs more shelters. “There’s a lot of buildings downtown that are empty. Why? Why are they empty? Why don’t they use something and open something up for the empty?” he added.

Mark Bonney with the nonprofit Hands and Feet of Jesus, said he gives out food to the unhoused at least three days a week and checks in on them. During Wednesday’s heat, he was out offering food again. He said he saw law enforcement helping clear out the MSD-owned area Tuesday.

“It’s very difficult because I know each time the homeless get displaced, they have to reestablish their groups that watch out for each other,” Bonney said.

The St. Louis Metro Police Department did not respond to FOX2’s request for comment.