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Police charge homeless with failing to wear masks

News


Stacy Moore

Homeless men sleep near the San Fernando Police Station on Harris Promenade on Saturday. - CHEQUANA WHEELER
Homeless men sleep near the San Fernando Police Station on Harris Promenade on Saturday. – CHEQUANA WHEELER

AT least five homeless people were issued fixed penalty tickets by police for failing to wear masks in public as a means of curbing the spread of covid19.

The men were all stopped and ticketed by police near Harris Promenade and Mucurapo Street, San Fernando on Saturday.

Reports are that the homeless people were stopped and questioned by police and told of the offence. The ticket states they have 14 days to pay the $1,000 fine. If they fail to pay, they must appear before a magistrate in the San Fernando Traffic Court for a virtual hearing.

In order to pay the fine, people must call a number provided on the tickets to be told when and where they have to pay.

Newsday spoke to one of the men. He said he and many others do not have any money to buy masks or pay the fine.

“I don’t live anywhere. I live on the streets because I don’t have a place to go. You think I like it here? I have no money to buy food, so where will I get money to buy a mask?”

He said the police will have to go and find him after the 14-day period.

“I don’t even have a phone to contact any court.”

We are aware of what is happening in the world and our country with covid19. We read papers, we are not stupid. But we don’t have a choice. We don’t have any masks and people don’t even come near to us, so the police are really wasting their time charging us.”

Another homeless man said people have donated masks to them but they have no clean water to wash them when they become dirty.

“Look at my clothes. I have been wearing these same clothes for months. Sometimes I use water from the drain to wash. We are already living in hell and now they are charging us for not wearing a mask.”

Another homeless man said he has tried to frequently wear a mask he got but did not do so on Saturday as he was looking for water to bathe and wash his clothes.

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