Sometimes, 2 minutes isn't enough to get your point across. Especially when it involves your business and the safety of your employees.

That's the defense being used by owners of Des Moines' Exile Brewing after statements that came off in a very anti-homeless, "get off my lawn" style that they say was in no way intended.

R.J. Tursi and his mother Amy own the brewery. According to KCCI, they came to a Monday night city council meeting to address their growing concerns about panhandlers around their business, a growing concern in many communities.

Amy Tursi's statement at the meeting said, in part:

Is it OK to camp in the city?". I call the police. I have people camping on my property and they get drunk at about 5 p.m. and my employees are in the parking lot. They feel threatened

Amy then went even further:

We are undermining all the good that the homeless shelter is doing by allowing these people to come and get breakfast and dinner — a hot meal — and you can see the pictures of them all drugged out, passed out,


That referred to photos in a handout she distributed before the meeting.

Amy said the police have told her there isn't much they can do about it, and R.J. felt compelled to take to social media to clarify Amy's statements. He pointed out instances of his employees not feeling safe, and being assaulted verbally and physically. Above all, R.J. wanted it known that both he and Amy respected, appreciated, and intended to continue working with local homeless shelters working to resolve the issue.

KCCI spoke to the CEO of Central Iowa Shelter & Services (CISS) who says they have all the resources available that the homeless community is willing to take advantage of, plenty of open beds, and a low-barrier shelter. That means they accept anyone in their shelter without any precondition, so they will let people come into their shelter even if they don't have documentation or if they're not sober

As for the city council's response to all of the above, council member Indira Sheumaker simply said this:

I think that I agree that there is a problem. However, the problem is that people don't have housing, people don't have food, and people don't have resources.

Sheumaker said the council would continue to do what it can to provide those resources.

Panhandling and loitering and people camping, we've had an increase in these concerns and that's because we have an increase in housing issues, financial crisis, and homelessness in our city. These are things that we need to be addressing.

You can see the video of the discussion below, via KCCI's YouTube channel.


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