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Transients Displaced by Papal Visit Watch John Paul on TV

September 16, 1987

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Homeless men who were forced to move to a new shelter because of Pope John Paul II’s visit accepted their plight with good humor, quietly watching the pope on television.

″They should have let him stay at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. There’s better security there,″ Jeff Salsbury, a resident of the Union Rescue Mission, said Tuesday.

″You know, they could have had him stay at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel,″ Salsbury said with a grin. ″Then they could have given him a star on Hollywood Boulevard.″

Salsbury was moved to temporary quarters in the downtown warehouse district after the Union Rescue Mission was closed at the insistence of the Secret Service, which considered it a security risk.

The mission, a refuge for the homeless on the edge of Skid Row, sits next to St. Vibiana’s Cathedral and rectory, the pope’s home in Los Angeles.

The pope’s visit marked the first time the mission has closed its doors to the homeless since it opened in 1891, according to George Caywood, the executive director.

The city moved about 400 transients from the mission into a converted warehouse Monday morning. They will be permitted to return after the pope leaves town Thursday.

″We think the mayor put us over here, not the pope,″ said Leroy Ratter, who has lived at the mission for five months. ″It’s like sweeping dirt under the rug ... just shoving these people out of sight isn’t solving the problem.″

″Everybody’s blaming the pope,″ he said. ″I don’t think he should be blamed.″

Those interviewed at the shelter were more sanguine about their situation than Ted Hayes, who was arrested Monday after staging a hunger strike to protest the relocation of transients. Hayes was released later in the day after being charged with interfering with a federal officer.

″I think the city just wanted to clean out the place and make it look better,″ said Jesse Chambers, another transplanted mission resident. ″It was a chance for them to show their housecleaning capabilities.″

A few of the men said they had walked several blocks to Fourth Street and Broadway to watch the pope’s motorcade, but most passed up the chance.

″I think Los Angeles is going to be the same whether the pope comes here or he doesn’t,″ said Cecil Mosley. ″I wouldn’t get in that crowd to see him. I can see him on TV.″

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