A day in the park for Tampa's 'Occupy' movement has turned into six months and counting.
Some see the tents and trash and think, 'There goes the neighborhood.'
Recently the Old West Tampa Neighborhood Association rolled up the welcome mat and replaced it with a petition to push the Occupiers out.
Association president Mike Vannetta says the group is a nuisance and hurts local business.
"I think it's OK to feed the homeless and I think it's OK to give them a place to sleep, but it shouldn't be on Main Street in the business district. I mean, it runs away customers," he said.
In December, Occupy Tampa left downtown's Curtis Hixon Park after a series of clashes and challenges with police. Strip club owner Joe Redner, who owns Liberty Park on Main Street, allowed the group to stay there.
Occupier Joshua Bey says they don't get in anyone's way. He says their protests are peaceful, but admits sometimes tempers can flare up.
"There have been some fights, but it's not an everyday thing," he insisted. "It doesn't happen a lot."
But Shon Wilson, who works at a nearby convenience store, has mixed feelings. On the one hand, he believes in free speech and the right to protest. But on the other hand, he says it can go too far.
"We can't even use the park, but Occupy West Tampa has used it to the point where they were living here," said Wilson.
Mindy Almas who works at a nearby daycare, didn't sign the petition. "We've never had any problems. They've been here for a long time and I think its kind of ridiculous."
And so does Lisa Moore. She and her family live next door to Freedom Park and likes her Occupy neighbors.
"They don't bother nobody. I don't know why they want them out. To me they haven't done nothing wrong," she said.
The Tampa City Council will address the issue in two weeks.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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