Homeless given citations for sleeping in park during pandemic

Posted at 12:05 AM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 00:10:00-04

FORT MYERS, FLA — "I'm like hopeless at this point, said local advocate Ramona Miller.

On Wednesday, there was a sense of despair, at the park near Edison avenue and Jackson street in Fort Myers.

That's after people struggling with homelessness were woken up with police sirens and a loud speaker Wednesday morning, and several others were later issued trespass warnings.

"It was just basically saying that if they're caught there again, there will be a consequence," said Miller.

Many of them went there, after being removed from the library on Monday.

"There's a pandemic going on. What are we supposed to do?" said one man.

As Miller, a local human rights advocate, stopped by the park to serve them food later in the day, Fox 4 spotted FMPD cruisers circling the area.

One of them eventually drove into the park to make sure no one was on the grass.

"I don't even think they care to fix it," said Miller.

With shelters full and public parks closed, Miller says these people literally have nowhere to go.

Miller was joined by state representative Heather Fitzenhagen, who came out to the park to see the problem first hand.

"I am trying everything I can to find a solution," said Fitzenhagen, "We have to find a place where they can be safe, where they can be observed and fed."

Fox 4 has also been speaking to Fort Myers city leaders who say the pandemic is exposing an area that city needs to improve upon.

"This is a great opportunity for us now to look at how we were able to respond, how we wish we were able to respond and hopefully prepare for better response should this occur again," said city councilman Kevin Anderson.