Dunbar man fighting to open business to end violence


FORT MYERS, Fla.–We hear people all the time talking about cleaning up the crime-ridden Dunbar community.
Now, one man has a plan to do it, but he says the city isn’t helping him.

“I am trying to make peace in the community,” said Schon Thomas who owns Thomas and Thomas Grocery Store on Henderson Ave.

Thomas dreams to change a violence stricken community and to do that he wants to re-open an old BBQ stand next to his grocery store.

“I want to open that back up and bring back the history,” said Thomas.

But Thomas tells WINK News, one Fort Myers Police officer harasses him and everyone who shops at the store and puts Thomas in a negative light to city leaders.
Thomas says the city won’t allow him to open the BBQ stand because the land isn’t for commercial use, even though thomas says, back when the county owned it the BBQ stand was legally open for business.

Thomas and many other customers pleaded with city council earlier this week.

Thomas wants to BBQ stand to be a hub for anyone to come enjoy cheap food and have good conversations. Thomas hopes it will get people off the streets and curb the violence.

“We will get to know each other, get to know each others families all over again and that keeps some of the crime and violence down,” he said.

But if you hang out here, the warnings are spray painted on the wall.
No drugs, no guns, no violence.

Thomas says he needs to do something so he wont have to bury anyone else.

“Everyone that gets murdered, I am always the one that knows them, coached them, I have seen them come in and out of my building,” said Thomas.

WINK News spoke to Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson who says he supports what Thomas is trying to do and thinks it would be great for the community. But Mayor Henderson says it needs to be done lawfully and changing land use codes, if that is the issue, will be extremely tough.

WINK News repeatedly contacted the city managers office, who is looking in to all of this, but we have not received any calls back.

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