"These benches were actually removed due to the hooliganism of the residents of these particular social groups. Quite frankly, they chose to relieve their natural needs on the benches, and then these human feces were not only left on the benches, but smeared on these benches, under these benches, and in general, this stop was, to put it mildly, unusable not only for passengers who wanted to sit down, but being near this stop was very unpleasant," explained Jānis Vaivods, Acting Director of the Outdoor Space and Mobility Department of Riga City Council.
The benches are said to have been regularly cleaned, but soon homeless people appeared again and continued to answer the call of nature there.
"In the month of August, we faced such a situation, I think, ten times. In this situation, our only real solution was to get rid of this bench. At the moment we see that this solution is working at this stop, they don't stay here. In this case, the public benefit of not having benches, in our opinion, is greater than when these benches are in place, but not usable due to the actions of other people," said Vaivods.
Since the benches on Barona Street have been dismantled, this "bench gang" has found a new location nearby on Ģertrudes Street to serve similar purposes.
"The municipal police were called, and in each of these cases the police came, asked the gentlemen to leave that stop. But the problem was that they did it in a very peculiar way, covering themselves with blankets or something like that, and it was not possible to determine which of the gentlemen had done these hooligan activities. In any case, it is administratively punishable – protocols were drawn up for them, but it did not change the fact that they were back the next day, and on separate occasions they had done it at night," Vaivods recounted.
The official said that a solution was being sought "but at the moment we have not found a bench that would not be as pleasant for them."