More than a dozen people gathered at Philosophers Grove to protest and speak out for homeless rights Thursday.

The protesters met in response to an email Mayor Paul Soglin sent last week to city alders regarding the state of downtown behavior.

“In the past two weeks there has been a serious increase in the number of drifters in downtown Madison,” Soglin wrote.

In the email Soglin outlined various incidents in which he said he believes “deteriorated” the situation downtown.

Though many of these incidents involved finding clothing, waste and even hypodermic needles on areas on State Street where homeless individual and “drifters” often frequent, he wrote multiple times that these are not homeless issues.

However, protesters disagree.

Many of the issues Soglin outlined in his email are issues homeless people face daily.

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Former Ald. Brenda Konkel helped organize the protest and said the city has had the ability to solve many of the problems Soglin outlined in his emails years ago.

Some of these solutions include building a day shelter and public bathrooms downtown.

“The mayor put out that letter and a lot of us were really frustrated because there is $200,000 in the budget to have a downtown restroom and [the city]…there still isn’t one and we still have the same problems,” Konkel said.

One of the biggest issues, however, is of responsibility.

Some of the lines between city and county responsibility are blurred and fingers are constantly pointed at the other to take action, Konkel said.

Homeless advocate and community organizer, Garrett Lee said homelessness is a problem that stretches beyond city and county responsibilities.

“Everyone looking around and pointing a finger [saying,] ‘its their problem, its their problem,’ its all of our problem,” Lee said. “It’s a community problem and we need to start acting in a solution focused way instead of taking punitive measures.”

During their protest, members made their way from State Street to the City County Building, chanting along the way.

Though they were not large in numbers, their voices carried through downtown and drew the attention of many onlookers when they walked in the street and stopped traffic for a moment.

Upon arrival at the City County Building, protesters unraveled a banner that read “housing is a human right,” reminiscent of the banner used by the Young Gifted and Black Coalition in recent protests which read, “black lives matter.”

The Mayor has recently held meetings with city organizations to address these issues and will continue to discuss the matters in the future.