Sarasota homeless man arrested for charging phone

The Herald-Tribune reports on the latest in Sarasota's long running war on the homeless, arresting a man for using a public charging station to charge a phone. "In 2006, Sarasota was called the “meanest city” in the nation by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty and the National Coalition for the Homeless..." (Thanks Thom!)


  1. If he’s got a big phone it’ll have a 3000 mAh battery this translates to 3.6 V * 3 Ah = 10.8Wh. Let’s assume that his charger stinks and is on the fritz and uses 10X the juice. So now we’re at 100Wh used to charge his phone in the extreme case.

    What is a 1KWh in California worth? 14 to 25 cents (depending who you ask). So he used .1KWh at most. What’s that worth?
    Maximum of 2.5 cents.

    Ignorant abuse.

    1. Don’t worry. If we assume that Sarasota cops magically work for federal minimum wage, they earn approximately .2 cents per second. As long as they are efficient enough to rough up the homeless in ~12 seconds the program remains cost effective! 

      Or, um, Law and Order, or something.

    2.  And then they wanted $500 bond to let him out of jail.  Which is only 20,000 times as much as they accused him of stealing.  Sounds reasonable to me.

      If we assume an 5% APR, then that would be approximately 0.013% daily interest.  Courts don’t usually pay interest on money left as a bond, thus, if he did post bond, it would cost the defendant 6.5 cents per day in lost interest.  So, every day he awaits trial he pays an effective penalty greater than the amount he’s accused of stealing even though he hasn’t been found guilty yet.

      1. Bluh! Bluh! *cough* It’s the principle of the thing… or something. *Snort,mutter* Have to send a strong message, tough on crime, in this economy *fill-in-the-blank-platitude* Bla bluuu bluh.

      2. You’re leaving out the room and board he gets now that’s he’s off the streets. Blankets, bed, heat, food, electricity, the salary of the guards, benefits, pension, etc, etc, etc.

    3. > What is a 1KWh in California worth? 14 to 25 cents (depending who you ask).

      Yes, but this Sarasota is in Florida. And they were using the same calculators they use to tally votes.

        1. I’m tempted to respond with a pun. But I’ve misplaced my binder full of puns. All I have is this binder full of… oh, never mind.

  2. At least from the article, the new incoming police head person woman seems to have a better grasp on the issue. 

  3. It’s clearly an abusive arrest, but for the sake of accuracy, he was using an outlet at a picnic shelter and not a “public charging station.” The public charging stations mentioned in the article are for electric cars, which of course suck up a hell of a lot more electricity and make the arrest that much more absurd.

      1. Both EV charging stations and putting the underclass in its place are services the municipality provides to the constituents it actually gives a damn about…

        Clannish and morally myopic? Certainly. Contradictory? Not really.

    1. Nah, with the reporter finding 2 others charging phones and a third charging a wheelchair on the same outlet, which is not posted as restricted, it is a bona fide public charging station as much as the EV station is.

      And for the sake of accuracy the article specifies “vehicle charging station” which it should because you can’t charge a phone or anything else there.

  4. Frangioni:  “You know, wearing that flag on that jacket, looking the way you do, you’re asking for trouble around here, friend.”

    1. LoL, I’ve always appreciated and admired that particular usage of the word “Friend”, as in, “don’t mind this pick ax handle, friend, it will only hurt until you are unconscious”

  5. Pretty outrageous. The outlets in park structures are *public outlets*. They’re put in place specifically for the public to use, as part of the benefits of the park itself.

    The parks around my neck of the woods have both public and non-public use outlets. One can tell by the fact that they have a locking or security screwed metal cover and signage saying things like “city use only.” Any unauthorized use of the utilities are entirely the city’s fault. If they don’t want anyone to use them, then don’t be a dumbass and leave it open to anyone who walks by. There’s simply no excuse for not securing it if it really is non-public. And if it is open to park goers then the cop who arrested the guy needs some unpaid leave and retraining for the wrongful arrest (the judge ruled the officer had no standing to arrest the guy, but the article doesn’t say whether it was considered a wrongful arrest).

    From TFA it’s quite clear that the police have taken it upon themselves to guarantee homeless people have no reason to feel like citizens while in public.

    Apparently cops had been arresting people on the sidewalks not for obstruction or loitering, but trespassing. How the hell can a citizen tresspass in a public area open to access 24 hours a day 365 days a year?

    Fortunately that policy is being reviewed and corrected. And the asshat police chief is retiring soon. The soundbite from the incoming cheif sounds promising, let’s hope she won’t turn out to be a militant thug like her predecessor seems to be.

  6. Americans: “Get a job, you bum.”
    Homeless person: “OK I’ll get a job, let me call to set up an interview…” *pulls out phone*
    Homeless person: “Oh, my battery is depleted.” *plugs in phone*

  7. Christ.

    I’m in an area (Toms River, NJ) that was hit by Hurricane Sandy. We lost power for a week because of the storm (my wife and I were incredibly fortunate enough to not be in town during a lot of the storm, but that’s another story). Tired, without a shower for two days, and with dead cell batteries, we pulled into a local Starbucks that had power. I had a small charging strip with me (so we’d only take up one outlet), and we powered our phones (and bought some food and drinks so that we wouldn’t be viewed as complete jerks). Within an hour, we could see everything that was going on, reach out to friends and family, and catch up on work stuff.

    Nobody said boo. Nobody said we stunk (I did brush my teeth and change clothes and put on a fresh coat of deodorant that day, but no power = no heat = icy cold ice showers, and I wasn’t that brave yet. Luckily, we got power back that night. Best shower EVER.) Nobody hogged us for siphoning an outlet and precious, precious electricity. 

    I can’t imagine the indignity of being charged with just trying to power up a device that, in today’s world, is absolutely necessary to keep up in civilized society. What utter stupidity and inhumanity. 

  8. A power outlet at a picnic shelter, they arrest this man for using this? 
    Oh how this newspaper placates the fascists (charging station ftw.) I think the cops of my birthplace, Los Angeles and / or of my dad’s home towns (San Diego & Tijuana) must be migrating to towns and cities across the U.S., based on the shit I’ve been reading, hearing and seeing for like, ever.

    The town in which I was raised, and now again live has more or less (but when it’s less, it is LESS) effective civilian oversight of the police, progressive police hiring practices and a fairly mellow institutional culture within the police department. Unlike Corvallis, which is about 40 minutes north of us. Corvallis cops and the city council  forcibly round-up (or pay) a bunch of homeless people and send them in private cars, or by charter bus to Portland, or Eugene. Corvallis and Sarasota have a similar right-wing vibe and demographic. Plus the Beavers (and whichever teams Sarasota has) suck, perhaps not in terms of performance, but in their choice of schools. 

    Police in Eugene? They collect blankets and food for the homeless, at least during the Christmas season, I mean when it’s freezing outside. 

    The mounted (motorcycle) traffic cops here, sometimes when I see one of them on his (always a dude) steed, or when I read about abuses similar to this BB post,  I think of one of my favorite bands from my youth, MDC, — because the mounted pigs, Wheel-Pigs are a pack of perjurers. 

    Here the band MDC’s WikiP link:

  9. This post has upset me.  Far more than the usual social-justice-type posts on BB.  That easily could have been me charging my phone.
    Frangioni and Holloway, you are among the worst people alive.  I have had to delete most of what I initially wrote in this field, because it made me look like a psychopath.  That is the type of response your version of law enforcement evokes from individuals that still have emotions, in spite of your paradigm suppressing them.  burn in hell.  a hollow threat from an atheist, i suppose.  since i don’t believe in an afterlife, just burn in this life then.

  10. Madison, WI also cited at least 1 person that I know for using a public outlet meant for use by vendors who purchase a permit. This outlet may have been meant for people who pay to rent the park shelter. A verbal warning or looking the other way in case the guy was using his phone for a job search would have been more appropriate, however.

    Are there any Sarasota businesses willing to cause a little trouble by providing a power strip for homeless people to charge their phones?

    1. Silly harassment by cops/city. If they can’t bother to put up a sign then they can’t believe they could convict thus they should recognize they should not charge.

  11. it is exactly stuff like this that makes me stop wanting to read boingboing. can we get a “how depressing is this article” rating so i can get news that doesn’t make me want to vomit?

    1. :) I took less than 2-3 seconds to scan the post by my reckoning, more than enough info to tell me whether to continue to the actual article, or not. The Happy Fun Time Power Hour Blog is 3 doors down on your right.

      And c’mon, admit it, the Rambo comment and the “risk of charging his phone” comment totally made up for the blues & anger -inducing subject matter

  12. I’m really more concerned that there’s a homeless stroke victim that needs an electric wheelchair to get around. America’s weird.

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