Lakeland targets homeless with new camping law
Lakeland has a new ordinance on the books that bans unauthorized camping in the city limits. It’s aimed at the homeless.
-- but says the city isn't criminalizing homelessness
The City Commission voted unanimously to approve the ordinance, which prohibits homeless people from sleeping on the street or in parks. It takes effect immediately.
Mayor Gow Fields said the city hears the fears of the homeless who are worried they'll now be taken to jail by police enforcing the ordinance, but he said that's not the purpose of the new rule.
"It is not our intent to round up every person that we believe to be homeless and take them off to jail. That is not our intent. That is not the intent of this ordinance," Fields said.
Lakeland police also say they don't expect to flood the county jail with homeless people in violation of the ordinance. Deputy Chief Bill LePere said violating the new ordinance is a misdemeanor, and "it is not the city's desire to criminalize homelessness."
Read The Ledger report here.
Mayor, what is the intent of the ordinance? The obvious intent of this law is to get the homeless off the streets. If they don't, they go to jail. It's as simple as that. Why do one thing and say another?