Homeless demonstration advances GOP debate11/27/07 Seán Kinane
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With the CNN/YouTube Republican debate tomorrow in St. Petersburg, members of the homeless community and activists are drawing attention to the city’s treatment of the homeless by holding a four-night sleep-in at the site where the debate will be held.
Yesterday they were forced to move across the street from the Mahaffey Theater to the sidewalk in front of the Hilton Hotel on 4th avenue south at first street southeast.
The Rev. Bruce Wright is pastor and director of Refuge Ministries. Wright said he and nine other people began a juice and water hunger strike on Sunday night in order to get the city of St. Petersburg to improve conditions for people who don’t have a place to live.
The solution suggested by the homeless involves a plan to move people into permanent shelters. Wright said that advocates and people who are homeless oppose the city’s use of the new Pinellas HOPE tent city, in part because it is a waste of resources that could be used for permanent solutions.
G. W. Rohl was once homeless and is an organizer of the sleep-in at the Mahaffey. He doesn’t like the city’s tent city idea because it’s temporary and far away from social services.
This morning St. Petersburg police removed some personal possessions of people who live on sidewalks under Interstate 375, outside the St. Vincent de Paul Society at 15th Street N and 5th Avenue N.
Homeless advocate Eric Rubin said Officer Sandra Miner and other St. Pete Police officers threw away the belongings of some people living there.
Rubin said tonight there will be a solidarity march from the St. Vincent de Paul Society under I-375 at 15th Street N and 5th Avenue N to the Hilton Hotel across from the Mahaffey Theater on 4th Avenue S at 1st Street SE to join the sleep-in.