Reverend Larry Rice is suing the city of St. Louis and Public Safety Director Eddie Roth for condemning a homeless camp he tried to set up last month near Interstate 44.
The federal lawsuit filed Friday claims Roth failed to give a hearing prior to closing down the vacant lot on Vandeventer and interfered the group’s religious freedom.
“They went and condemned that vacant ground," Rice said. "And in a matter of hours they told us we had to get off the property and if we didn’t that we’d be arrested – of which I was arrested. And there was no violation.”
Rice’s lawsuit seeks punitive damages and an injunction to override the city’s condemnation of the property.
Public Safety Director Roth says he’s comfortable having the city’s actions -- including Rice’s arrest - examined by a judge.
“I’m happy to have our actions on that day in May measured against his actions that day in May and have the whole thing evaluated by a federal court," Roth said. "Totally comfortable with it. No problem."