CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Charlottesville officials have removed five benches from the Downtown Mall and added a table staffed by police in response to business owners' complaints about problems often linked to homelessness.
The Daily Progress reports that mall merchants complained at recent City Council meetings about drunkenness, fighting, loud cursing and aggressive panhandling. The complaints prompted the city to remove benches around a fountain where a group seemed to have settled. Police also are staffing a table in the same area on weekends.
Restaurant owner Andrew Silver said the issue is not homelessness, it's lawlessness.
But Brandon Collins, a frequent advocate for the poor and homeless, called efforts to clear poor people off the streets "sickening."
The council in 2010 passed an ordinance prohibiting panhandling in some areas of the mall.
Information from: The Daily Progress, http://www.dailyprogress.com
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