• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

Spring Donation Drive

CounterPunch is a lifeboat piggybank-icon of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Saturday Morning Massacre

 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:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 17, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Trump and the Middle East: a Long Record of Personal Failure
Joan Roelofs
“Get Your Endangered Species Off My Bombing Range!”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Slouching Towards Tehran
Paul Street
It’s Even More Terrible Than You Thought
Rob Urie
Grabby Joe and the Problem of Environmental Decline
Ajamu Baraka
2020 Elections: It’s Militarism and the Military Budget Stupid!
Andrew Levine
Springtime for Biden and Democrats
Richard Moser
The Interlocking Crises: War and Climate Chaos
Ron Jacobs
Uncle Sam Needs Our Help Again?
Eric Draitser
Elizabeth Warren Was Smart to Tell FOX to Go to Hell
Peter Bolton
The Washington Post’s “Cartel of the Suns” Theory is the Latest Desperate Excuse for Why the Coup Attempt in Venezuela has Failed
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Analysis of Undecideds Suggests Biden’s Support May be Exaggerated
Peter Lackowski
Eyewitness in Venezuela: a 14-year Perspective
Karl Grossman
Can Jerry Nadler Take Down Trump?
Howie Hawkins
Does the Climate Movement Really Mean What It Says?
Gary Leupp
Bolton and the Road to the War He Wants
Jill Richardson
Climate Change was No Accident
Josh Hoxie
Debunking Myths About Wealth and Race
David Barsamian
Iran Notes
David Mattson
Social Carrying Capacity Politspeak Bamboozle
Christopher Brauchli
The Pompeo Smirk
Louis Proyect
Trotsky, Bukharin and the Eco-Modernists
Martha Burk
Will Burning at the Stake Come Next?
John W. Whitehead
The Deadly Perils of Traffic Stops in America
Binoy Kampmark
The Christchurch Pledge and a Regulated Internet
David Rosen
Florida’s Sex Wars: the Battle to Decriminalize Sex Work
Ralph Nader
Trump: Importing Dangerous Medicines and Food and Keeping Consumers in the Dark
Brett Haverstick
America’s Roadless Rules are Not Protecting Public Wildlands From Development
Alan Macleod
Purity Tests Can be a Good Thing
Binoy Kampmark
Modern Merchants of Death: the NSO Group, Spyware and Human Rights
Kim C. Domenico
Anarchism & Reconciliation, Part II
Peter LaVenia
Game of Thrones and the Truth About Class (Spoiler Warning)
Manuel E. Yepe
The Options Trump Puts on the Table
Renee Parsons
The Pompeo/Bolton Tag Team
David Swanson
Where Lyme Disease Came From and Why It Eludes Treatment
Cesar Chelala
Lowering Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Our Problems are Deeper than “Capitalism” (and “Socialism” Alone Can’t Solve Them)
Chris Zinda
Delegislating Wilderness
Robert Koehler
War’s Unanswered Questions
Robert P. Alvarez
Let Prison Inmates Vote
Barbara Nimri Aziz
A Novel We Can All Relate To
David Yearsley
Carmen’s Mother’s Day Lessons
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ziya Tong’s “The Reality Bubble”
Elliot Sperber
Pharaoh’s Dream
Elizabeth Keyes
Somewhere Beyond Corporate Media Yemenis Die
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail