December 12, 2013

Ithaca Mayor Issues Call to Clear ‘Jungle’ After Man Dies in Fire

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Richard Sherman, the 53-year-old resident of The Jungle who was left in critical condition after a tent caught on fire earlier this week, died Thursday afternoon, police say.

The Ithaca Police Department said in a press release that although it is continuing to investigate the fire, which broke out in The Jungle at around 2:55 p.m. Wednesday, it does not suspect foul play.

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 issued a statement expressing his condolences to Sherman’s family. He also took the opportunity to address the issues stemming from homelessness in the City of Ithaca — saying the fire that broke out in The Jungle must “serve as a clarion call to our community.”

“It’s time that we work with human service agencies, the community of faith and private individuals to clear the Jungle and keep it clear,” he said in the statement. “We cannot service those who live there with addiction services, mental health services, or police and fire protection. I will do everything in my power to steer any current inhabitants to healthier, existing alternatives.”

Prior attempts to clear The Jungle have run into opposition from both the public and the encampment’s residents, some of whom say they would have nowhere else to turn if evicted. Although volunteers reported that, in February, all of the community’s residents had been moved into properties in the city — including one on Court Street — some people have since moved back into the Jungle.