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.
If it is not legal to camp, the police can do whatever they need to to chase the people out. Especially when they are knowingly violating the law.
"the man, who gave only a first name of Mo(pbuh),,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
I hope they are taxed like the rest of us, especially for their housing/land.
"Another spot for the displaced tent dwellers was beside busy Martin Luther King Jr. Street."
Marked on every tourist map from Albany to Zanesville...
Why not? I'm pretty sure sausage is currently made from homeless pigs.
They can not confiscate, or destroy private property w/o specific statutory authority. They did not have that, so what they did is a crime. It was theft and destruction of property.
You said -- "I hope they are taxed like the rest of us, especially for their housing/land."
You know..., property taxes in Oregon are on the high side. But, there is no sales tax. I'd rather keep the sales tax out of Oregon, myself. And the voters have voted against it over the years.
But, even with property taxes being what they are in Oregon, I mean -- how much is property tax going to be on a place that has no "real value"? I mean, tax a shelter that is worth $50 and will cost $100 to tear down and carry away (if need be). Well, yes then, maybe tax them. Okay, let's see one nickel a year in property taxes, maybe a dime -- I don't know (at the going rate).
All right -- let's see if we can find one or two bottles on the street to pay my property taxes per year. That should do it.
Oh..., of course, you do know that Oregon was the beginning of the "Bottle Bill" -- where you have to charge deposit on pop bottles (anything with carbonation). They figured, when they began that law that the "bums" would be the ones who "cleaned up" the different areas of the state by picking up the bottles for deposit (and they do!).
Well, so much for property taxes...
This whole homeless tent city is the brainchild of a Rev. Bruce Wright.
He got people to donate the tents, in an attempt to set up a tent city and confront the city on the situation of the homeless.
The homeless in downtown St. Pete has been a huge problem because they flock to the city in the winter and disrupt downtown businesses. The are sanitation issues and property rights issues as they congregate downtown.
So this Rev. decided he was going to make a name for himself by "standing up" for the homeless. He's basically the instigator behind all the trouble. They even have picket lines of homeless demanding more "rights" in downtown St. Pete at the main entertainment complexes.
Here's the blog about the organization behind all the hub bub and organization of the homeless.
From the Rev.'s Bio: the groups he is affiliated with
He is a member in the following organizations: NAADAC, Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign, Critical Resistance, Every Church a Peace Church, League of Revolutionaries for a New America, St. Pete. For Peace, Food Not Bombs, Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless, Homeless Legal Defense Fund, Pinellas County Juvenile Justice Council, St. Pete. Task Force on Homelessness, and the St. Petersburg Ministerial Association
The article mentions efforts to get them to move. I could have predicted they wouldn't work.
Given that these people are generally mentally ill, they can't be dealt with in normal ways.
The "village" is on public property.
The group living there is essentially organized as an HOA, with bylaws the residents/'members' must sign & agree to abide by.
The whole thing is registered as a 501-c-3 nonprofit organization.
Taxes? We only need YOUR stinkin' taxes!
When does he have time to preach to, and pastor, his congregation? LOL...I know the answer.
Al Sharptongue & Jesse Jackass share the same "pulpit".
There will be no homeless again when Hillary takes over. ;^)
Great for the enviornment
Your reply begs a question....how do you know there was no specific statutory authority?
P.J. thinks otherwise. :))
The stolen and destroyed property is tents. Notice there were no drug arrests and no claims that the tents were confiscated as fruits of the drug trade. What was claimed was, they did it to get rid of the homeless men.
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