Group sues to block clearing of tent city downtown

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A public-interest law firm sued Friday to block the removal of a tent city set up in a park across from city hall.

ArchCity Defenders filed the suit just hours before the city’s 10 a.m. deadline for taking down the tent encampment that had been housing about 50 people, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

The city argues that that the encampment’s crowded and unsanitary conditions risked spreading the coronavirus.

But the suit alleges that the city is failing to address the needs of the homeless. The suit was filed on behalf of one of occupants of the camp, Ranata Frank. The suit said she had signed up for space in a hotel three weeks ago and was still waiting for a bed.

After the 10 a.m. deadline passed, officials secured shelter elsewhere for those willing to leave. It was not immediately clear what would become of those who don’t voluntary leave the park. City parks are open to the public until 10 each evening.

The suit, which seeks class-action status to represent others in the camp, says there are not enough beds to accommodate the estimated 500 to 600 homeless in the area.

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