Tampa Police evict squatters who took abandoned house before Republican convention

09/07/12 Seán Kinane
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A couple who took over an abandoned house in Tampa just before the Republican convention was evicted this morning by Tampa Police.

Tyler Mitchell is an activist who was there to help the squatters, who did not want to be interviewed.

Mitchell said the police did not have legal standing to evict the residents, but they let the Police into the home.

“We are at 208 East North Street in Tampa, Florida. This is a site where there was a housing takeover done during the beginning of the RNC. Police have showed up and for some reason the people that were living in the house were told to comply and just leave without any real legal standing on the matter. They have the water turned on in their name, they’re getting their mail here, their bed is here, and they’re paying for the utilities. Technically at this point it should be a civil matter that the property owner would have to file an eviction and it would have to go through the courts that way. So I don’t really know why they were told to just comply with the police and leave the premise. That’s where we’re at now.”

“So it sounds like from a legal standpoint it was essentially their house, they were living here.”

“Yeah by the laws in Florida, by the squatter rights if you have utilities in your name, if you’re getting your mail there, if your bed’s there it becomes a civil matter and they have to go through an eviction process to remove you.”

“So now do you have any idea of what they’ll do?

"I don’t know, one of the people mentioned taking them back to Romneyville but I don’t know what the purpose of that would be since Romneyville is closing down in the next couple of days.”

“There’s a sign there up on the house that says something to the effect of “Don’t Come Inside” is there something structurally wrong with the building?”

“No, not whatsoever actually, aside from a little bit of overgrown vegetation outside of the building it’s in good shape. Air-conditioning works, rain stops the air from coming in, and it actually looks really nice inside.”

“Is the owner demanding that they leave?”

“It’s actually owned by one of the banks. It was foreclosed on property. In the Tampa area we have this issue where homeless people are outnumbered by vacant homes. There are all these people homeless and there are all these empty homes. You would think the logical process would be to put people in homes. For some reason the county officials and city officials and state officials don’t see it that way.”

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