NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Sprinklers are usually used to water lawns and keep us cool on hot days, but a landmark store near Union Square has been accused of using them to spray away the homeless.
When the book racks at Strand Bookstore go away for the night, people move in. Dozens of people bring sleeping bags and furniture to a spot underneath the store’s massive awnings.
After years of warning the homeless to stay away the store allegedly decided to spray them away.
“This is something you do to animals,” homeless activist Marcus Moore told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin on Friday.
Neighbors told Carlin that they believe the system was installed sometime over the summer. That is when they noticed a copper pipe and rubber tubing along the awning and extending down the rest of the block on East 12th Street.
“First of all, we need an apology to the homeless community right now,” Moore said.
Strand’s manager refused to offer an apology, but said that the sprinklers were installed to keep the sidewalks clean.
“We’re not evicting, we’re not evicting the homeless,” the store’s manager said.
Neighbors said that the sprinkler warning signs came down a week ago and that the sprinklers have been off since. Some residents want them turned back on.
“I love it because the homeless aren’t here,” one man said. “I feel for the homeless, but not living underneath this.”
It remains unclear if the area under the awnings will stay dry long enough for the homeless to return.
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