Residents petition mayor for help with homeless in park

by: Carl Willis Updated:

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ATLANTA - Neighbors fighting to push drug dealers and prostitution out of their park think they finally have enough support to get the attention of city hall.

Channel 2 Action News first reported on the issues at Midtown Atlanta's Renaissance Park over the summer.

The creator of an online petition calling for help from the mayor told Channel 2's Carl Willis he gathered 601 signatures.

The hope among many homeowners is that the mayor's office will help relieve problems, including aggressive panhandling.

Those living around the park said they've seen enough.

"I guess the word would be a takeover," said neighbor Lena McLarin.

McLarin said the neighborhood park is being taken over by residents of the nearby Peachtree-Pine Homeless shelter.

"If they're not in the shelter they're going to go in the park," said neighbor Andy Belton.

Many residents in the area point to confrontational, threatening behavior, excessive littering, urban camping and drug deals out in the open.

"People handing things back and forth, money exchanges, and I've even called 911 and let them know a drug deal is happening," said McLarin.

Belton recalls an incident just a few months ago when an aggressive panhandler became violent.

"They asked him for money he said, ‘I don't have any,’ but one of the guys came after him and slugged him," he said.

McLarin said she just wants to feel safe again in her neighborhood park.

"It's very intimidating," she said. "Of course, at night, don't even go there, but during the day even."

The petitioner told Willis he hopes to hear from the mayor's office this week.



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