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Many downtown residents say homeless feedings lead to criminal activity.
Sarasota Wednesday, Jun. 29, 2011 9 years ago

Sarasota commission to address homeless feedings

by: Robin Roy City Editor

Because their last attempt to discuss the homeless feedings in Selby Five Points Park devolved into chaos, Sarasota city commissioners will not allow public input when they tackle the topic again.

The commission decided to talk again about groups that feed the homeless in the downtown park. During its June 20 meeting, they were never able to reach any conclusion, because Richard Martin, executive director of the Suncoast Partership to End Homelessness, made a display of civil disobedience by refusing to stop addressing commissioners when his time to speak had expired.

People in the audience began to yell at him to stop speaking. A homeless man with a long criminal history then began yelling and threatening two of those people.

Police had to escort Martin out of the room, and the discussion never progressed.

Commissioners scheduled another discussion 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, at City Hall to try to address it again but will do so in a workshop format, which does not allow input from the public.

“We can try to get a consensus, without all the emotion,” Commissioner Shannon Snyder said.

The city requires groups of more than 75 people to get a permit to hold an event, such as a feeding, in a public park.

Because fewer than 75 people gather for the weekly feedings, no permit is required, but a group of downtown residents wants to lower the threshold to 12 people, which could eliminate the feedings.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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