Safety group working to keep downtown streets safe

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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Multiple people contacted our Whistleblower Hotline complaining about groups of people hanging out downtown. One woman says she was randomly punched and yelled at by a man she believes was homeless, and possibly drunk.

Others echo her concerns, saying something needs to be done.

However, we found out that there is more work than you may realize going on downtown to keep the streets safe.

Zandbroz Bookstore has been open for business for more than 25 years. Owner of the store, Greg Danz says in the 90's downtown used to be sketchier. "Fargo kinda pushed all of what we consider the undesirable elements to downtown."

Danz says they had problems surrounding people drinking in public, being intoxicated. "This was just kind of where homeless people congregated." He says, "There was this kind of unwritten rule that we would put up with something's downtown back in the olden days, and there was a turning point where we came to an understanding that it's not okay to do on 42nd Street, it's not okay to do downtown."

Danz says authorities have stepped up their communing policing.
Walking the streets, and holding people accountable. "We don't tolerate panhandling, we don't tolerate public intoxication."

The problem caught the attention of the downtown community partnership too. A safety committee has been formed, made up of police, business owners, and the FM Coalition for Homeless Persons. Cody Schuler with the coalition says, "They might be surprised by how many folks who are out and may ask for money, and that kind of thing. For us that live downtown, maybe some of us are used to it, a little bit. But I would encourage anybody that has someone approach, it is really important to remember that they are people and they are residents."

Danz says, "We have got more work to do, but we have made a lot of progress, and I feel safer on the streets than I ever have in the last 25 years."

The FM Coalition for Homeless persons is currently working on a drop-in site. It will give people who walk the streets during the day somewhere that they can hang out. The coalition believes it will help the downtown problem.