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Push for new trespassing ordinance after man says city violated his rights

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Posted at 6:49 PM, Jul 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-19 04:51:09-04

FORT MYERS, Fla.  — On Monday, the Fort Myers City Council is set to begin talking about possible changes to the way trespassing is regulated. This comes as a response to a demand letter from a man who was banned for life from Lions Park.

John Brown is the man who claimed Fort Myers Police (FMPD) violated his rights when they issued a trespassing warning and banned him from Lions Park for a lifetime with no ability to appeal. According to his attorney, Brown is homeless.

"He contacted us because he wished to return to that park and was concerned about his rights being violated,” said Chelsea Dunn, with Southern Legal Counsel. "That includes the right to appeal that trespass and notice of your right to appeal.”

Dunn is one of Brown's lawyers and said the lifelong ban did not provide him an opportunity to appeal, and that this violates the 14th amendment right to due process—along with Florida law.

Back in February, Southern Legal Counsel sent the city of Fort Myers a demand letter. Dunn said that the city responded that they needed time to make changes.

The time seems to have come with Monday's meeting. In the first step of the formal process, the council will vote for the ordinance to be heard in a public meeting.

Some of the trespassing rules include establishing a process for issuing notices, warnings, and appeals on public property.

“We are also pleased that it appears to be the city’s intent to rescind any trespass warnings for public parks and public property that was issued before this appeals process was put in place," Dunn said "So we were very heartened by those changes.”

If voted for public comment, the public hearing will be on Aug. 1.