FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Some Fort Lauderdale residents took to the streets to express their opposition to a state-of-the-art forensic center that is coming to their neighborhood.
7News cameras captured a group of protesters as they chanted and held up signs at the intersection of Sunrise Boulevard and Northwest 27th Avenue, just before 6:15 p.m., Friday.
The residents’ message was loud and clear.
“No to the dead bodies, period. Yes to the live bodies,” said James Williams.
Williams referred to a plot of land along Northwest 23rd Avenue set to become the future home of the Broward County Forensic Science Center. It was the subject of a recent 7 Investigates report.
Broward County officials describe the forensic center as a state-of-the-art facility.
Area residents, on the other hand, called it a morgue, and they don’t want it in their backyard.
“The morgue has got to go,” a protester said using a megaphone.
County officials said the site will house both a new Broward Sheriff’s Office crime lab and the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office, which is currently in Dania Beach.
“Were gonna have traffic coming into our communities 24/7. That is a disservice to our communities,” said area resident Sharon Alexander. “We don’t want it. We’ve been saying no.”
The back of the building will be near Rock Island Elementary School.
“Take it to Port Everglades. You can put whatever you want in Port Everglades. It’s county land,” said Alexander.
Deputy Broward County Administrator Monica Cepero, however, sees the facility as a benefit to the neighborhood.
“This is actually an investment in their community,” she said.
As to the residents’ misgivings, Cepero said the forensic center will not be a disruptive addition.
“There’s only one entrance in and out. It’s not going to be near the elementary school. None of the kids are going to see anything. No one will actually see what’s going on,” she said.
That is, unless they enter the facility to visit a section designed to educate the public about forensic science.
Cepero said it will provide a great opportunity for the nearby students.
“It’s going to be a partnership that we want to actually bring folks into from the community to see, and we welcome them into community rooms and training opportunities,” she said.
Many in the community, though, aren’t buying into this proposed partnership.
“No, no, we don’t want it at all. Respect our neighborhood,” said area resident Susie Fletcher.
Protesters said they’re upset at county commissioners who voted in favor of the facility.
One of them, former Broward County Mayor Dale Holness, stopped to speak with demonstrators. He said he voted for the forensic center but will voice his opposition to it when commissioners meet on Tuesday.
As it currently stands, however, the county plans to break ground in 2023.
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