ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Testimony continued Tuesday before the St. Louis Board of Public Service on public urination, drunkenness, and crime in and around the New Life Evangelistic Center.
A group of residents and businesses started a petition drive to have New Life shut down and its hotel license revoked. Tuesday’s discussion was the second of three hearings before the board.
St. Louis Police Officer Daffney Allen said the calls for police service at the facility are constant.
“It’s kind of like an assortment of police reports at various times. They vary from assaults, homicides, drug arrests, larcenies,” Allen testified.
New Life’s owner, the outspoken advocate Rev. Larry Rice, argues that he can’t be blamed for all the problems with homeless downtown when his is one of four homeless service providers in the neighborhood. Also, he claims, his shelter is shielded from City Hall interference by the Constitution.
“We have protections under the Constitution. We are a church and we’re going to continue to follow Jesus Christ and not the Slay Administration,” Rice told KMOX News last month, referring to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.
The St. Louis Public Library’s Executive Director Walter McGuire testified Tuesday that since Central Library re-opened, she has had to hire off-duty police officers. McGuire works with other shelters to provide library cards for the homeless.
“We have had a number of small children, astonishingly small children…left a number of times in the children’s library,” he told the board.
A third hearing before the St. Louis Board of Public Service is scheduled for Tuesday, October 8.