Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Homeless Arrests in Church Parking Lot Dismay Attorneys; Police Defend the Move, but Others Say It Points out a Shelter Shortage

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Homeless Arrests in Church Parking Lot Dismay Attorneys; Police Defend the Move, but Others Say It Points out a Shelter Shortage

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN LEWIS

Assistant Public Defender Michelle Barki got 32 homeless people released from custody Thursday, but she was so upset by the task that she proceeded to donate $320 to a local homeless shelter. That was $10 for each person arrested.

The 32 people were poor and needed good meals, she said. They had made a habit of sleeping in the parking lot of St. Philip's Episcopal Church at 321 W. Union St., but "no trespassing" signs were posted after a car was burglarized. They were rounded up Wednesday morning and bused to the Jacksonville jail on charges of trespassing.

Police said they were justified in their actions. But the arrests surprised local attorneys and advocates for the homeless, who couldn't recall a roundup of similar scope.

Public Defender Bill White was dismayed, though a judge withheld adjudication on the misdemeanor charges of trespassing, and the men were released.

He said the charges may have been justified, but the problem wasn't solved. …

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