Skip to comments.St Petersburg Police Slash Tents of the Homeless
Posted on 01/20/2007 10:12:26 AM PST by meg88
St. Petersburg Police Slash Tents Of Homeless Skip directly to the full story. By STEPHEN THOMPSONand ROD CHALLENGER The Tampa Tribune
Published: Jan 20, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - A homeless man was lying down in his tent across the street from a soup kitchen Friday when two police officers yanked open the tent's flap and shouted, "Get up. Get out of there."
Then, the man said, the officers dragged him outside and slashed the tent's dome with knives.
"In the end the cop asked me, 'Are you all right?'" said the man, who gave only a first name of Mo. "I said, 'Is this a joke? Are you kidding me?'"
A cat-and-mouse game between the city and its burgeoning homeless population took on a confrontational tone Friday as about two dozen officers swooped down on 15th Street North and either confiscated or destroyed a dozen tents in which homeless people had been living.
A week ago, a tent city up the street that was home to about 150 people was dismantled peaceably. Some of the 150 received rent vouchers; other homeless people accepted mats at a homeless shelter; still others took gasoline money or bus fare to return to out-of-state relatives or friends.
But some were not interested in those options, or they didn't qualify for them. So, on Jan. 13, when they were ordered to leave the tent city on Fourth Avenue North, roughly two dozen people pulled up stakes and moved beneath nearby Interstate 375.
One favored location beneath the highway is across from the St. Vincent de Paul Society soup kitchen on 15th Street. That's where Mo was Friday. Another spot for the displaced tent dwellers was beside busy Martin Luther King Jr. Street.
Trouble was, both sites posed public safety hazards, St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon said. A half-dozen motorists complained they almost struck homeless people or their tents on Martin Luther King Jr. Street.
Some people also smoked inside the tents, or lit small fires on which to cook, Harmon said. The makeshift shelters were pitched so close together that if one had ignited, the others might have, too, the chief said.
On Thursday evening, the tent dwellers were told the tents violated safety codes and had to come down. But some of the tents, or different ones, were back up Friday.
"There were some folks who decided they were going to test us today," Harmon said. "We decided to go out and just take them down."
Half of the dozen remaining tents were confiscated; the others were slashed to render them unusable, Harmon said.
"The intent was not to arrest anyone," Harmon said. "The problems weren't the people. It was the tents. To me it didn't make a difference if they were the Boy Scouts of America."
Harmon said officers had legal authority to confiscate or destroy the tents because they are allowed to remove a hazard that lies on a right of way, which is city property.
The Rev. Bruce Wright, an advocate for the homeless who has served as a liaison between the city and the tent dwellers, said a deal was brokered in which the dwellers on Martin Luther King Jr. Street could move to 15th Street. Harmon said no such deal existed.
Anthony Diglia thought otherwise. He had just carried his possessions from Martin Luther King Jr. Street and set up his tent beside 15th Street when it was slashed.
"I have no tent no more," he said. Reporter Stephen Thompson can be reached at (727) 823-3303 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reporter Rod Challenger can be reached at (727) 536-8443.
Where are all of these freebies for working citizens?
We should eat the homeless.
Unfortunately, the flesh is too tough and salty.
Where are all of these freebies for working citizens?Firstly, I hate camping or anything resembling camping (in particular, sleeping under a tent on hard or lumpy ground) so I don't feel I could ever opt for these kind of freebies ...
The police are the armed extension of the government. What the government tells them to do, they do. Keeping innocent people safe from criminals is not part of their job. Enforcing the administration's policies is.
Take a look here about Dignity Village in Portland, Oregon --
Apparently the "homeless" are politically active, too...
Gosh, remember those 8 years under Clinton where the homeless ceased to exist?
Destroying private property without paying retribution seems to be a growing police practice these days.
Sounds more like St. Petersburg Russia than St. Petersburg Florida!
The government no longer recognizes private property.
A bus ticket to Key West, and have a barrier on the freeway preventing them back onto the mainland. House the whole homeless population out there...and wait for a huricane.
Sounds more like St. Petersburg Russia than St. Petersburg Florida!>>>>
I read nearly all this before it dawned on me that it was Floridiyay, not Rooskie.
The cops should all be arrested for destruction of property.
"Harmon said officers had legal authority to confiscate or destroy the tents because they are allowed to remove a hazard that lies on a right of way, which is city property."
They had no legal authority to do so. They had authority to arrest the vagrants maybe, not destroy and steal their property.
UNLESS illegals are involved.
Then they are solicitous beyond belief.
Be quicker to offer them all jobs. You'll never see them again. ;)
Criminy, could we get something like this started here?
You're a wise man Jeeves.
Just what do you expect them to do? Dirty old tents bring nothing at the auctions. Now, drug dealers' expensive cars are another matter...
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