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December 29, 1989
Homeless give coins to join in Dave fete

by Paul La Rosa
After declaring him "our" mayor, nine homeless people yesterday presented Mayor-elect David Dinkins with $50 in coins as a contribution to his $200,000 inaugural ceremony.

The Rev. Timothy Mitchell, pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Queens, said a group of homeless people he organized felt it was important to give Dinkins the money because they wanted to be present at the inauguration "but not as supplicants." "We wanted to give our fair share," he said.

Dinkins said he was grateful. "To me, this is a manifestation of faith and trust in my administration . . . that we will do something to improve your lot," he said.

Dinkins then gave the group 200 tickets to the preferred seating section of Monday's inauguration. The tickets guarantee a seat.

Fred Tyrus, a veteran who lives at the Borden Ave. shelter in Queens, said the money was collected at shelters all over the city.

Steven Riley, who said he lives on the streets, bristled when asked if the money came from panhandling. "It's not important," he said. "Obviously, homeless panhandle."

Asked if he should accept money from people who have very little, Dinkins said: "We will find a way to handle this. The important thing is not to reject it."

George McDonald, a long-time homeless advocate, praised Dinkins.

"Four years ago, these people were in the back of City Hall park sleeping on benches, and the mayor didn't care about them," McDonald said. "This mayor cares."

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