[Hpn] 1st Amendment under attack in (where else?) Florida!

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Sat, 25 Nov 2000 14:16:44 -0700

Published Saturday, November 25, 2000, in the Miami Herald

Weston puts heat on street vendors

Homeless advocates are lashing out at the city of Weston after a street
vendor was cited Wednesday for selling newspapers along a city street.

Vendors of the Homeless Voice were selling newspapers on Weston Hills
Boulevard, where the street meets Arvida Parkway, when one ticketed by a
Broward Sheriff's Deputy and ordered to appear before a Broward judge, said
Sean Cononie, founder of Helping People in America, a social service group
that runs several shelters and publishes the Homeless Voice.

The city recently banned vendors and solicitors from its five busiest
streets, including Arvida Parkway.

Cononie said the vendor, Sandy Swick, was not selling papers on Arvida
Parkway, but crossing the street to return from a break.

``Everything we did was allowable,'' Cononie said. ``We stayed off the main

Sgt. Jerry Ross, the supervisor on duty at BSO's District 8 office Friday
morning, said the department stands by the citation, saying the deputy saw
Swick soliciting on Arvida Parkway.

Fort Lauderdale attorney Jamie Benjamin said he would help Swick fight the
charges in court through the American Civil Liberties Union. This is the
second time vendors from the organization have been arrested in Weston. Last
year six vendors were arrested for violating the city's law on soliciting
donations from people in cars. In that case, Benjamin said, the charges were
dropped and the vendors agreed not to sue.

``That's not going to happen again,'' Benjamin said.

Cononie said that the city's new ban on street vendors is ``selectively
enforced'' to remove the homeless from the city's pristine streets.

``The word homeless scares people,'' Cononie said. ``They are going after
the wrong people.''

Cononie also accused the sheriff's deputies of harassing the vendors

``That's ridiculous,'' BSO Lt. Mark Murray said, adding that if deputies
wrongfully told the vendors they could not sell the papers on any street, it
was a mistake resulting from the fact the ordinance is so new.

``It's a training issue and it's something that has been corrected, and
that's all it is,'' Murray said.

Mayor Harry Rosen said he wanted to review the police report and the
ordinance before commenting on the incident. But he said:

``I don't want harassment of anybody and certainly don't want harassment of
homeless people. I don't know that that exists. That's why I want to review
[the documents]. I think the law we passed has to be enforced as intended.''
Rosen said the new ordinance is driven by safety concerns, an explanation
echoed by Murray. 

``The whole intent was to not have people in the major roadways because
people and cars do not mix,'' Murray said.

But Cononie said the larger streets are safer for vendors because they have
wide medians. 

``If it was a safety issue, you wouldn't want to put someone at a stop sign
with a small median,'' he said. ``It wasn't about public safety.''

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