Dear Members and Advocates,

This was an emotional week. 270 of our brothers and sisters were kicked out of the makeshift community they created along the railroad tracks in a warehouse district in Hialeah. An encampment of tents and discarded patio furniture built on pallets to prevent them from sleeping in puddles. There was no shelter from the elements, there were no utilities. It was unsightly and unsanitary. This past weekend, after getting the green light from a Judge who called conditions at the site “deplorable”, the Miami-Dade County Police came in and with bullhorns blaring, forced everyone to move out.

So if it was so horrible, why are we mourning the closure of this colony? Because, for the couple hundred who lived there, it was home. It was also a site where they could rely on each other for help. People on GPS could plug into another’s generator to re-charge, newcomers would be welcomed, church groups came to offer assistance and they shielded each other from acts of vigilantism. They were not alone and this was their community. It was also upsetting, because this is now the 4th encampment (Julia Tuttle Causeway, Shorecrest, River Park, now the Tracks) they were ceremoniously sent to and evicted from, and this “sex offender shuffle” only serves to destabilize people who are desperately in need of stability in their lives.

Unlike other evictions, this move is more challenging. First, there’s the difficulty of finding somewhere else to go. Then you need to update your address with probation, a trip to the police to change your registration location and then to the DMV to get a new ID, all within 48 hours, as required by Statute. Fit in work and figuring out different public transportation routes and you better pray you make the deadline or it’s a 3rd degree felony!

We don’t want to publicize it, but as Legal Services/ACLU attorney Jeff Hearne suggested in his statement to the Media, many of the registrants by the camp have already migrated to a new location, once again tucked away and without access to bathrooms or potable water, and the cycle continues.

It’s important to clarify what took place in Court on Thursday, as lawyers tried to get the County to hold off on the eviction. There has been a lot of assumptions and speculation, so we need to set the record straight. We were there, so here’s the deal first hand. The hearing on Thursday was not the entire case. It was a hearing within the case. So we lost the battle, not the war. The case continues. This hearing was strictly to enjoin the County from evicting the registrants and it was a tough battle to win. It’s not as if the attorneys were fighting to keep the registrants in a shelter to prevent them from being put out on the streets. The fight was to prevent the County from moving them to where they would be homeless, without sanitation and violating the “overnight camping law” from a place where they were homeless, without sanitation and violating the “overnight camping law”. Either way… they are homeless, without sanitation and violating the “overnight camping law” and an injunction was not going to change or fix the problem.

The judge did, contrary to the temporary injunction decision, offer some helpful remarks from the bench. He said the “Conditions [were] so bad that most of us would not want our family pets living there,” and that “Sadly neither the outcome of this motion, nor this case, will correct this serious societal problem. That has to come from the executive and legislative branch.” While the immediate decision was disappointing, his comments and observations are indicative that people see how horrible things are and the laws need to change.

The disappointment over the decision also needs to be a reminder that we should avoid jumping to conclusions. There have been reports that the Judge received a $1000 donation from Ron Book, which are absolutely true, but at the same time, it’s highly doubtful that a Circuit Court Judge would toss reputation and integrity out the window for a thousand dollars. As mentioned, we were in the courtroom, we watched the hearing, it’s our opinion that the Judge was as offended by the County’s law as we were – but keeping the registrants at the tracks is not going to fix the underlying problem.

Speaking of offensive; Ron Book appeared on CBS Miami’s Facing South Florida yesterday, where Jim DeFede absolutely destroyed him, exposing Book to be the liar he is. If you have not seen it, you can watch it here: it is an absolute MUST SEE and MUST SHARE! This is this type of reporting that is essential to expose the truth. For the sake of the 270 at the encampment, the over 455 transient registrants in the County and the thousands across Florida, we need to keep this story in the news!


The Florida Action Committee



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