Sarasota News Leader

12/07/2012

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Sarasota News Leader December 7, 2012 OPINION Page 66 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR THE HOMELESS DO NOT DESERVE A PASS ON UNCIVIL BEHAVIOR On Thursday, Nov. 29, my husband and I were walking on the beautiful bayfront sidewalk from Selby Gardens to Bayfront Park. We were enjoying the sunny sparkle on the water, the breezes and brilliant blue sky. were two shirtless men, their possession-laden bikes leaning against the bench. One man, walking to the bench from the tiki bar, had dumped out a huge trash bag full of empty crushed beer cans and was shouting at A bearded man, in disarray, sped by us on his the other to get off his f ...... a .. and help him bike without warning, barely missing us and count them. scowling. In a loud voice, he spat out at us, "Stupid people!" He rode on, scowling back at These men were also rude, loud and smelly, us and mumbling something angrily. He had and they glared at us as we walked by. They bags of possessions in his basket; he looked staked out their claim on the bench and were dirty; and one would assume, he was living on going to live there all day long. Their looks said, "This is our sidewalk. Don't come here." the street. His anger was palpable, and scary. I turned to my husband and said, "Let's go home. This is ruined for me now." I smiled at We stopped on the spot, watching him ride on. the man counting the beer cans as I turned I was mad and felt insulted. My first instinct around. was to shout back, "Use your bell!" or "We have a right to walk here!" I didn't say a thing. Ironically, your editorial Friday, Nov. 30, deWe kept walking toward Marina Jack. scribed Sarasota's chronic problem of homeFive minutes later, we were enjoying looking lessness as a tug of war with a hardening of at the boats laying at anchor and the dinghies, positions on both sides. You describe a genhaving fun identifying the different types of trified downtown angry at vagrants and civmangroves and looking out to Bird Key and il rights leaders angry at public treatment behind us to the tall condos facing the water. of vagrants. I am not gentrified, nor am I a I had just finished telling my husband, "How merchant. Yesterday, my rights as a citizen lucky we are to be living here. This is such a of Sarasota were infringed upon by uncivil beautiful spot. We should do this more often," behavior toward me in a public place that I when before us, blocking the entire sidewalk pay taxes to have access to. I could have kept with their bags, shopping bags and clothing walking to the park, but I had seen ahead of

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