Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Storage Ban Law Sued in Federal Court

In 2014, the City of Fort Lauderdale passed a series of homeless hate laws, to which this blog was dedicated to reporting on. This week, the 2014 storage ban law became the 2nd of these laws sued in Federal Court for violating the civil liberties of homeless and homeless advocates that they were created to target.

The storage ban has been a focus of controversy around Stranahan Park for some time. It was originally enforced in April 2016 by FLPD officers attaching removal notices to property stored along the sidewalk on the west side of Stranahan Park. However, enforcement seemed too controversial and poorly thought out, and the idea mostly faded away when the City and County created a de facto safe space in the grassy area in between the Main Library and Stranahan Park in November 2016.

Last month the City launched a surprise raid of the Park, resulting in many people's important belongings being thrown out without prior notice as required by the storage ban law. In a surprising and fortuitous turn of events, Florida ALCU, with the assistance of Broward Chapter ALCU, not only took an interest in fighting back but managed to sign 16 people from Stranahan Park as plaintiffs. They are joined by Southern Legal Counsel, a Gainesville area public interest law firm that is also representing Food Not Bombs in its federal lawsuit against Fort Lauderdale's sharing ban law.

Although panhandling ordinances similar to Fort Lauderdale's have been challenged or overturned in places like Pensacola and Gainesville recently, that law along with the "camping ban" and the public indecency rules affecting homeless people have yet to be challenged.

Meanwhile, Stranahan Park remains closed and City representatives have been stonewalling anyone asking them when it will be re-opened. We hope to have more news about this soon.