'Homeless Jesus' statue prompts 911 calls

First responders have been called multiple times by concerned callers reporting a “person” needed help

FARGO, N.D. — For the last month, emergency crews have received several calls regarding a "Homeless Jesus" statue in front of a church. 

The statue of Jesus, huddled on the bench, was installed in early June and looks so real that concerned members of the community have called 911, mistaking it for a homeless man in distress reported the Bismark Tribune

The Bismark Fire Department takes every call seriously. "There’s a fairly high percentage of calls downtown that turn out to be someone taking a nap," Dane Carley, battalion chief, said.

Fargo police have also received concerned calls regarding the statue. "It’s not a common call. It just shows we have concerned citizens who are willing to make the call. That’s encouraging," said Police Sgt. Kevin Pallas. 

In Ontario, a similar statue of a "Homeless Jesus" has has a similar effect on its community, prompting 911 calls. 

The reverend of the First Lutheran Church, Laurie Neill, said when the statue was first installed, a hospital employee walked by and asked a church employee if they were aware there was a “homeless man sleeping on your bench.”

“I wish I could hear their reactions when they find out it’s a depiction of Jesus,” Neill said. 

Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz designed the statue, and first installed a similar one at the University of Toronto in 2013. They are also in Dublin and Detroit. 

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