FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Saturday Morning Massacre

by

 The Saturday Morning Massacre… so it was dubbed by the Homeless community in St. Petersburg, Florida. On gay pride day in St. Petersburg, the so called “Liberal” Mayor of St. Petersburg initiated mass arrests of homeless folks to clear the homeless of off the streets. Most of the charges were trumped up by the city and the Mayor’s Police force and most were minor or made up. Thus, began a new round of prosecution and persecution of Homeless folks in St. Petersburg. You see, in Florida, homelessness is criminalized and in many cases certain life sustaining needs are criminalized by cities in Florida and throughout the US. But, the actions of the St. Petersburg Police go even further.

After the “Saturday Morning Massacre”, Mayor Kriseman with the unconditional support of the Chief of Police and the SPPD, began a regular series of harassment efforts and arrests of those experiencing homelessness. Every day for the last several weeks, homeless folks have been told that they would be trespassed from public parks, such as Williams Park, that they would be trespassed from even the whole downtown area. This is unprecedented and unconstitutional! It violates International law regarding freedom of movement. All this is in light of upcoming elections for Mayor. And, the 2 corporate sponsored candidates, Mayor Rick Kriseman and Former Mayor Rick Baker, are campaigning on how tough they can get or are in regards to “cleaning up” the downtown area and getting tough on crime.

But, it gets even worse. There is now a lawsuit and criminal charges potentially in the works for a recent incident of gross Police misconduct, neglect and abuse. Recently, in a sweep of homeless folks, 8 homeless folks were arrested in put in a Police van. While in the Police van, the van caught on fire. It is not clear whether an officer was smoking or something else started the fire. The homeless folks started to bang on the door and on the inside walls of the van as smoke was causing breathing problems and causing the people to choke.

The Police van driver initially ignored their pleas for help for more than 20 -25 minutes according three of the homeless folks that were in the van. They came to us, at the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign Florida, to report this to us. We have secured a private litigation attorney and the Southern Legal Counsel from Gainesville to take on the case. In addition, to the initial reckless endangerment by ignoring the pleas of the homeless, the officers involved, did not even let the homeless folks out of the van until they had already sprayed the van with fire extinguishers.

When the homeless folks finally got out, they had to be treated for smoke inhalation. They were then told that if they didn’t say anything all charges would be dropped. There has an attempted cover up of this. But, we are going public with this all over. It appears that 6 of the 8 have been rearrested and all have been harassed in continued retaliation for this coming forward. This case is ongoing and may impact the election. The only candidates that have been responsive and supportive is Uhuru and Green party supported candidate for Mayor Jesse Nevel, as well as Akile Cannion, District 6 candidate for City council.

The story continues… As of this writing it has been reported that on Sept 1st there will be a series of crackdowns being initiated by the city. These include forcing several soup kitchens to either move or ceasing serving meals, social services agencies moving, forcing homeless folks to no longer lie down in the grass in public parks, and attempting to end meal shares in the parks by such groups as Food Not Bombs. But, we advocates and activists are going on the offensive. We have lawyers involved, planned sleep outs and other direct actions, a Copwatch being activated,  and a festival of Resistance called Disturbing the Peace Fest.

So, for our part the story and struggle continues also. Homelessness is not a crime. Poverty is not a Crime.

Rev. Dr. Bruce Wright is a Baptist Pastor and Director of Refuge Ministries and ordained Deacon with the Apostolic Catholic Church. He is on the Executive Committee of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. Email bruce@stpeteprogressives.org.

More articles by:
February 21, 2018
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein’s on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail