ALERT - NYPD busts homeless protesters, Rev. Sharpton included

Tom Boland (
Tue, 7 Dec 1999 01:22:06 -0800 (PST)

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FWD  Fox News - 12.19 a.m. ET (532 GMT) December 7, 1999


NEW YORK, NEW YORK - Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton
and several others were arrested Monday during a City Hall Park
protest over a crackdown on the homeless by Mayor Rudolph

"I'm being charged with being homeless,'' the black
activist said as he was handcuffed by police. "They do this to
the homeless every night.''

Sharpton deliberately did not apply for a demonstration
permit in order to challenge Giuliani's homeless policy. He said
homeless activists would continue to gather at the park, keeping
the number under 20 people in order to comply with city laws.

Police said 11 people were arrested when they failed to heed
orders to disperse.

A campaign of arresting homeless people since Nov. 20 is
already an issue in Republican Giuliani's probable Senate
campaign against his likely Democratic opponent, first lady
Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton attacked his new policy in a
speech last week and proposed spending more money on low-income
housing and the mentally ill.

In the months following the February killing of an unarmed
African immigrant by undercover police officers, Sharpton
organized a highly publicized civil disobedience campaign to
protest the shooting and other incidents of alleged police
brutality, an issue that grew into Giuliani's biggest crisis.

In his new homeless initiative, the mayor has also called
for a system where adults who refuse to work would be evicted
from city shelters for at least 30 days and their children would
be placed in foster care.

Responding to the protests, the mayor said his new policy
was misunderstood.

"What (they) are asking for is special immunity for
homeless people that doesn't exist for you and me,'' said
Giuliani, a former U.S. Attorney who has made crime fighting the
centerpiece of his administration.

"So far during the intense effort to try to deal with
homelessness, we have approached 1,674 people as of Friday,''
the mayor said. "Only 160 of those people have been arrested.
This is hardly a policy of arrests.''

Homeless advocates say the new city policy, instituted after
a Queens woman was hit over the head with a brick in  midtown
Manhattan on Nov. 16, unfairly hurts women and children in need
of housing. The Coalition for the Homeless advocacy group says
that on any given night 23,000 people, including 9,000 children,
sleep in city shelters.

The man charged with the brick attack was described by
police as a career criminal who was also homeless.

A Sunday rally was attended by about 1,000 placard-waving
protesters, who heard speeches denouncing Giuliani. It also
marked the 20th anniversary of a New York State Supreme Court
ruling that the homeless had the legal right to shelter under
the state constitution.

Six people were arresting during an all-night vigil that
started Sunday.


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