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Protesters Refuse To Leave Civic Center Garage
Dozens of people are holding their ground at the Civic Center parking garage in downtown Rochester. A group of 30 or so homeless people usually spend the night in the structure, but now the owners of the garage are locking the doors every week night at 8.
Protesters ignored the warnings from garage workers, as they tried to make a statement about poverty in Rochester.
"We can no longer allow these people to sleep on the streets and just sweep them under the rug. So, yes these people sleep in a parking garage, but no amount of notice would have been enough until we provide each person in Rochester a house that has lights and water," said Josiah Krause.
Krause was the most vocal of protesters. He says kicking out the homeless accomplishes nothing.
"This parking garage has been occupied by the street population for the past, since we've had poor people," said Krause.
When the clock hit eight, the gates shut. Now, the Civic Center garage will no longer serve as hostel for the poor.
"In a lot of ways this is safer than going to a homeless shelter or something like that, where there is a risk of violence, a risk of sexual violence, and thefts," said Jessica, who was protesting inside the garage.
Police allowed the peaceful demonstration to continue, except for Krause. Moments after he questioned the officer, the owners of the garage asked the police to escort him out.
Volunteers with the House of Mercy Homeless Shelter, the group that organized the protest, says Krause isn't associated with them and he detracted from their message.
The House of Mercy wants the city and the county to know there are better options for the homeless.
"To care or show this insensitivity to the poor in the community in this fashion is disingenuous, and that's a kind word I must say," said Jim Vogel with the House of Mercy.
The garage will no longer be a haven for the poor in Rochester, but advocates for the homeless say they'll keep fighting for the less fortunate.