homeless to protest Devil Ray opening day FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 1 Apr 1998 23:53:05 -0800 (PST)


FWD 3/30/98 http://archive.tampatrib.com/0330_25.htm

PROTESTERS WILL GREET OPENING DAY FANS

By LYNN PORTER of
The Tampa Tribune

ST. PETERSBURG - Homeless people plan a protest at
Tropicana Field on the first day of the Tampa Bay Devil
Rays' Major League Baseball play.

The homeless plan to protest Tuesday at the home field
of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as the team opens its
inaugural season.

While baseball fans line up to catch the Rays' first game,
homeless people plan to picket Tropicana Field. Advocates
say the city orchestrated efforts to sweep the homeless
from downtown to make it look better for baseball.

The demonstration is from noon to 2 p.m., and organizers
are inviting people to bring protest signs that urge
people to stop the war on the homeless.

``The point is to raise public consciousness that people
with disabilities, poor people and homeless people have
the right to enjoy St. Petersburg just as much as anybody
else,'' said Steve Kersker, an advocate for people with
mental disabilities.

The demonstration will be the latest since St. Petersburg
officials last year declared The Refuge church a social
service agency. Its location at 328 Ninth St. N. is not
zoned as such an agency. The ruling forces The Refuge to
get city approval to continue providing services, such as
near-daily food handouts to the poor. The church is
appealing that decision.

Robert Jeffrey, the city's manager of development review
services, has said his decision about The Refuge has
nothing to do with baseball. And a Devil Rays official
said the team had nothing to do with what the homeless
believe is a push to remove the poor and mentally ill from
city streets.

Homeless advocates also are angered that police have been
charging homeless people under a state law used rarely in
St. Petersburg until recently. The law makes it a
misdemeanor to have a shopping cart away from store
property.

Kersker is asking stores to give 100 shopping carts,
painted the Devil Rays' colors, to the homeless.

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