Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Roy Gleider said as he reached the edge of the city limits yesterday pulling his wagon loaded with supplies he was approached by the police department about the well being of one of his traveling companions. Gleider said the officer was not concerned about his health or that of fellow traveler Deborah Cowden, but rather he was asked about the well being of his third companion &8212; their dog, Poofer.

Poofer was tied on a rope to the wagon Gleider was pulling, and the officer was concerned that the animal might be used as a workhorse to pull the group&8217;s possessions. Gleider said Poofer was not in fact being used as a beast of burden and tried to placate the officer to diffuse the situation. He said it is not the first time the group has had meetings with law enforcement.

Gleider and his fellow traveler&8217;s stories begin in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in Gulfport, Miss. The trailer he was renting, which was decimated by the storm, was owned by his employer so he, Cowden and Poofer didn&8217;t qualify for FEMA assistance.

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They relocated to Colorado, then Idaho and back to Mississippi in Jackson, each time being asked to leave by authorities because they couldn&8217;t get housing because Gleider had no driver&8217;s license. He had no way to obtain one either because his birth certificate along with the license had been lost with his belongings and a person is required to present a drivers license for a birth certificate or a birth certificate for a driver&8217;s license &8212; a catch-22.

Gleider and his band&8217;s problems were multiplied by the fact that Cowden has mental problems that prevent her from receiving shelter assistance without proper medication. As the group was asked to leave Jackson at the behest of police officers, and to

move their belongings to the other side of adjacent Rankin County, Gleider decided to travel to Washington, D.C. to bring attention to the blight of the homeless.

Gleider said the majority of the public chooses to ignore the problem and the government does not take measures to remedy the situation due to public indifference. Gleider said he, as a person that has lived without a permanent residence, sees ways to fix the problem.

An interesting dichotomy seen by Gleider in his travels is the difference between public perception as seen through measures taken in Washington and what he has experienced in traveling east through towns on highway 80. Gleider said he has yet to want for nourishment or supplies due to the giving nature of those he has come across, yet no plan has yet been made to remedy the nation issue of homelessness. To bring this much needed attention to the problem Gleider said he is documenting his trip and hopes to eventually set up a Web site with a video feed to allow others to share the experience in addition to his wagon he pulls down the highway to pique interest.

Until that time, Gleider said he will do what he can through his protest in the hopes he can make a difference. He said he has been threatened with jail 1,591 times since he has left Jackson and he expects more as he travels. But he said it is worth the hassle if people are persuaded to stop pushing the issue under the carpet.