Raymond Cox just wants a place to pee. That’s all.
The homeless man is asking the City of Fort Lauderdale provide portable toilets downtown.
“That’s my topic,” Cox said. “We need porta potties for the homeless.”
Cox, 61, says he is a gay man who has lived the homeless life in Fort Lauderdale since 1980. He said he is a recovering alcoholic who was arrested in March of 2012 for urinating on the lawn in front of his apartment complex.
“I had about four malt liquors in me,” he admitted. And so he just needed to pee.
“[Anti-homeless] laws are passed in response to downtown commercial districts, homeowners being upset at property values decreasing, and the tourism industry,” said Tristia Bauman, a senior attorney the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. So she added, “the criminalization of homelessness has increased. These laws perpetuate homelessness and do not fix the problem.”
Cox said he attends Fort Lauderdale City Commission meetings regularly as a homeless advocate. At his last appearance before the commission, Cox said, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler had police remove him from the meeting for speaking beyond his allotted time.
Cox says he sleeps across from City Hall in a homeless camp with about twenty other people. He said Fort Lauderdale police have issued him a ticket for trespassing on public property, which amounts to a notice to appear in court, Cox said.
Mike Lee, a public affairs officer for the City of Fort Lauderdale, said public restrooms are available at Mills Pond Park, Holiday Park and City Hall. Lee said he was not aware of any public restrooms open 24 hours in the downtown zone.
Meanwhile, Cox said he lives in fear of the Fort Lauderdale police.
“Our Fort Lauderdale cops are bullies with badges,” Cox said. “I’m not going to deal with them. It’s not safe.”
By providing no public places to urinate downtown, and then arresting those that have to take a leak, it forces homeless people out of the area.
But that doesn’t fix the problem.
“Rather than resolving the heart of the issue, which is housing, they are abusing the criminal justice system,” she said. “It’s a temporary mask on the problem.”