Posts Tagged ‘prejudice’
Posted in civil liberties, class war, criminalizing, discrimination, homeless, houseless, human rights, illegality of sleeping ban, landless, necessity defense, poor people, rights, safe haven, veterans, tagged Anatole France, anti-camping law, anti-homeless policy, anti-panhandling, criminlaization, downtown business, economic recession, expanded police powers, homeless, houseless, living in public eye, over-regulated, prejudice, Prescott Arizona, scapegoat, status crimes, unconstitutional laws, vagrant, veterans on October 15, 2010| Leave a Comment »
Homeless need our understanding
By RANDALL AMSTER
Here we go again. The criminalization of a class of people simply because of who they are, coupled with expanded police powers, all done in the name of economic security and public order. While I could be talking about immigration under this rubric, the issue of homelessness in Prescott raises similar concerns and deserves thoughtful consideration.
Just as we’ve seen a strong backlash against the state’s draconian new immigration law, cities and towns adopting stringent anti-homeless policies oftentimes find themselves creating an unwelcoming atmosphere that actually drives away tourists and shoppers.
Urban and quasi-urban areas that are overly regulated and sanitized can undercut the energy and spontaneity that make for a dynamic experience in public places.,/h2> Prescott’s downtown squarely fits this framework.
As is almost always the case, the charge to “crack down” on vagrants and the homeless (not the same thing, by the way) is being led by local business owners who’ve suffered a downturn in their enterprises.
Many factors are at play here: a protracted recession, lower consumer confidence, and the development of malls on the town’s outskirts. Local businesses, that we certainly ought to support, should be pointing a finger at a city council that has subsidized big-box development and undermined Prescott’s desirability as a tourist destination by making it look more like a generic Anytown instead of protecting its unique heritage.
Homeless people, however, make for a more convenient scapegoat, in part because their presence is so public – by definition, after all, a homeless person is one who lacks a private space to retreat to and therefore exists primarily in public.
Consider the behaviors being talked about as problematic and potentially criminal, such as sleeping, eliminating, sitting, asking for help. All of these are completely innocent and essential human activities, none of which are illegal when done inside one’s private space.
When done in public, however, they are seen as nuisances, and the answer often proposed is criminalization in which jail sentences can be given for such acts.
Moreover, by and large such actions are limited to a particular class of people, namely the homeless, and in this sense laws against these behaviors seek to create “status crimes” aimed almost exclusively at a certain group.
When the City Attorney says that the city is focusing on conduct and not aiming at a “classification” of people, it indicates his awareness that status crimes are unconstitutional and unenforceable in the United States, yet it also demonstrates his disingenuousness because we all know who these laws are intended to impact.
As Anatole France once said, “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” Indeed, we are all equal under the law, but some of us are more unequal than others.
The homeless are a diverse group that increasingly includes displaced working-class people, families, and veterans. They deserve equal respect and a place to exist.
If not in “Everybody’s Hometown,” then where else?
Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D., is a professor of Peace and Justice Studies and chairman of the Master of Arts Program in Humanities at Prescott College.
Poverty Pimp, John Shelter and Eureka Cops Team Up To Target People With NO PLACE TO GO (These are old quotes)
Posted in California, civil liberties, class war, criminalizing, discrimination, Eureka, CA, gentrification, homeless, houseless, human rights, illegality of sleeping ban, interview, northern california, police brutality, poor people, Uncategorized, veterans, tagged deprivation of sleep, Eureka Police Department, hate crime, homeless, houseless, human rights violation, illegal confiscation of property, illegality of camping laws, illegality of sleeping ban, John Shelter, move along, Murl Harpham, no facilities, no shelter space, Northcoast Resource Center, police abuse, poverty pimp, prejudice, public land, violation of civil rights, wrongful arrest on August 23, 2010| Leave a Comment »
Donna Tam/The Times-Standard
“The difference between us and law enforcement is we have the ability to come out on a daily basis,” Shelter said.
Shelter and his team of North Coast Resource Center — or NCRC — volunteers spent about three to four hours Friday morning cleaning up the marsh near the Virgo Street entrance as part of a new program funded by a $20,000 grant from the California State Coastal Conservancy. The center signed a contract with the city of Eureka on Tuesday and began surveying the area Wednesday. Part of the program’s mission is not just to kick people out of the marsh, but educate them about taking responsibility for the environment they disturb and other options they may have.
….During a pilot program in Trinidad, Shelter said occupants of 124 of the 182 encampments did not want to be there. He hopes that cleaning the marsh will also allow the program to gather data about the demographics of the homeless community.
….A lot of people don’t realize that if they leave garbage outside of their house — like old mattresses, blankets, or carpets — they are providing the homeless with materials to build makeshift shelters, he said, standing by a campground consisting only of a blanket and what looked like a wooden platform.
And from Murl Harpham of the Eureka Police Department “good ole boy” network:
Sean Garmire/The Times-Standard
“The solution is heavier enforcement, which we can’t do,” Harpham said. The solution is “just to make it uncomfortable here for them.”
….At least twice a week, he said, officers sweep homeless camps. But without any place to move to, the camp’s residents are forced to find another space to set up camp. ”We just keep moving them around,” Harpham said.
….After a complaint is issued, Harpham said Eureka officers respond to tell the trespassers to leave. Their information is reviewed in a database, and if they are repeat offenders [repeat sleepers!], they are either arrested or cited.