ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Standing on the same grassy lot where he was arrested a week ago for trying to set up a homeless tent city, the Reverend Larry Rice announced that he hasn’t given up yet.
After spending a night in jail from the experience, and talking to his own lawyer and the American Civil Liberties Union, Rice stopped short of saying he will sue the city, but hinted that’s an option.
“The city overstepped its bounds, abused its authority in condemning the ground before any infractions of the law took place,” Rice said.
The ACLU was invited to join Rice for his news conference on the site at Interstate 44 and Vandeventer, but a spokesman said they were unable to attend.
ACLU Executive Director Brenda Jones issued a press release just after the event saying, “We condemn the city of St. Louis’ decision to illegally dismantle Rev. Larry Rice’s Integrity Village.”
The ACLU press release went on to say, “If the city has legitimate legal grounds to act in the community’s interest, it should state those grounds and act in accordance with the law. Instead, they acted like the neighborhood bully who thinks he can dictate his own rules.”
St. Louis Public Safety Director Eddie Roth, who is an attorney, indicated that the city was well within its rights to tell people to dismantle their tents and leave a lot for which they had no occupancy permit.
The city’s actions were also strongly endorsed by neighborhood residents, who complained Rice had not sought their input before plopping a homeless camp a short walk from their homes.
Moving forward, Rice says he is reviewing whether to file a lawsuit, but had no complaints about his time in jail Rice described the jail personnel as “very professional.” He says he was kept overnight, at first with the general population, then moved to a single cell where he could get some sleep.