Saturday, May 23, 2009

St. Petersburg homeless stand up for themselves

St. Petersburg city officials got themselves a bit of a bad reputation last year when they ordered cops to cut up the tents of the homeless while destroying a homeless encampment. Since then, the city has passed a number of ordinances which make life difficult for homeless people, including the amount of personal belongings people can have beside them when sleeping out.

Now, six homeless people and a group of advocacy organizations are suing the City of St. Petersburg.
"What has been happening in St. Petersburg over the past couple years is one of the worst examples nationally of widespread abuse of homeless persons' civil and human rights," said Tulin Ozdeger, civil rights director for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, one of three organizations representing the city's homeless. The Southern Legal Counsel and Florida Institutional Legal Services have also sided with the homeless.
The lawsuit, filed in Tampa, claims the city's ordinances violate various constitutional protections, including freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, freedom from unreasonable searches and free speech.
Ozdeger said the ordinances also fail to provide sufficient guidance for police officers, which encourages arbitrary enforcement.
"We feel that we have a very strong case," she said. Tampa Bay.

Photo from OB Rag.

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