Protesters target bench removal in Northampton


NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) - Northampton has removed benches from the Main Street shopping area in response to complaints about loitering and has drawn protests from activists who say officials are cracking down on the poor.

Dozens of protesters brought patio chairs on Saturday for anyone to use.

Mayor David J. Narkewicz said he's received numerous complaints, particularly from businesses, about people he says occupy benches for extended periods. The city removed six of 16 benches.

Protester Benjamin F.C. Taylor said removing the benches is intended to kick out the homeless and panhandlers.

Business Improvement District director Daniel Yacuzzo said the benches were installed for the comfort of all pedestrians, but have become a campground for very few.