NYC homeless PROTEST at Rockefeller Christmas tree FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 26 Dec 1999 14:07:33 -0800 (PST)


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FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Dec 25, 1999 01:36

     ROCKEFELLER TREE PROVIDES HOMELESS PROTEST BACKDROP

     By LARRY McSHANE
     Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Christmas lights sparkled on Rockefeller
Center's 100-foot tall holiday tree. Down below, dozens of
advocates for the homeless stood praying for the city's destitute,
reminding holiday shoppers that Jesus was born without a home.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, along with veteran civil rights activist
Rev. Herbert Daughtry, led the demonstrators Friday in a brief
silent prayer amidst hordes of Christmas Eve revelers.

``This underscores the appalling disparity between those who
have and those who have not,'' Daughtry said as shoppers made
last-minute purchases and tourists snapped keepsake photos.

After the prayer, demonstrators marched silently in a circle
along 49th Street and handed out leaflets, braving temperatures in
the high 20s.

``Here in the seat of New York opulence, as shoppers are buying
special presents and throwing credit cards down, we're here to
remind them that people are still living in the street,'' Sharpton
said.

``Two thousand years ago, Mary and Joseph were looking for
shelter,'' Sharpton added.

According to Sharpton, the protest was sparked by Mayor Rudolph
Giuliani's recent homeless policies. After a brick-wielding
homeless man seriously injured a Queens woman, police began
arresting homeless people who refused orders to move from city
sidewalks.

The city also moved to put children in foster care if their
parents sought city shelter but refused to accept work assignments.
Two judges blocked the city from instituting the foster care rule.

``Jesus would have been in foster care if Giuliani was mayor of
Bethlehem,'' said Sharpton, who was arrested Dec. 6 after trying to
spend the night in City Hall Park.

Sharpton and Daughtry also announced plans to take over a vacant
city-owned building and fill it with homeless people seeking
shelter. The event will occur Jan. 15 to coincide with the birthday
of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., they said.

The unspecified Harlem building will be dubbed ``The Martin
Luther King House,'' Sharpton promised.

AP-ES-12-25-99 0237EST
Received  Id AP993597573C5A7 on Dec 25 1999 01:36

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