Standing up with the hungry
Posted: Monday, August 26, 2013 12:36 am | Updated: 12:38 am, Mon Aug 26, 2013.
Protesters gathered Sunday evening at Moore Square in response to a series of cease and desist requests targeted at groups distributing food to the homeless.
The latest cease and desist request was enforced Saturday morning when the Raleigh Police department, in accordance with a city ordinance, forbade Hugh “The Reverend” Hollowell and his Love Wins Ministry from distributing coffee and breakfast to area homeless people.
“It seemed less like ‘get the people out of the park’ and more like ‘how do we punish homeless people,” Hollowell said.
According to Hollowell his group had handed out breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays for 6 years before the cease and desist request on August 24th.
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane attended the event to reassure protesters and charitable organizations that no arrests will be made for handing out food at Moore Square.
According to McFarlane at least 32 different groups distribute food at Moore Square. She also said that more homeless people might have their needs met if these groups were more evenly distributed across the city.
“We’ve gotten to where there are so many people coming and and bringing food and wanting to help that it is almost sometimes overwhelming,” McFarlane said.
City officials provided little information as to why police recently enforced the ordinance after years of interaction between organizations and homeless people, though McFarlane and City Councilman Russ Stephenson both cited an overabundance of groups donating and haphazardly dropping off food as reason for reform.
Donald Zepp, leader of Humans Beans Together and former professor of entomology at Cornell Univeristy, said that the police disallowing the distribution of food “came as a complete surprise considering we had police officers previously coming over to us to say ‘thank you for being here’ and ‘we appreciate what you are doing here.’”
Zepp also said he familiarized himself with the city ordinance that prohibits the distribution of food and it could theoretically be applied to extent that “if you’re here with your family and you feed your kid a sandwich, you’re breaking the ordinance.”
Hollowell expressed a surprise similar to that of Zepp, stating that “When a man with a gun tells you that you’re not permitted to do something, what do you do?”
“We are not the mayor’s enemies, we are not the City of Raleigh’s enemies,” Hollowell said. He mentioned that during a conversation with Mayor McFarlane she expressed her own surprise toward the incident and assured him that Love Wins would not be arrested if it returned the following Saturday.
Jes Cronmiller of Food Not Bombs, a political organization that frequently distributes food in Moore Square, noted that the number of people picking up food on Sunday afternoon was below normal. Many of her regulars had forgone acquiring food out of a fear of being ticketed or arrested by the police.
The sentiment of many of the protesters in attendance was that the police overextended their reach and used an obscure ordinance to remove homeless citizens from the park.
According to McFarlane, lawmakers and public safety officials will meet this week to address the future of food distribution in Moore Square and across the city. In the meantime, Love Wins, Food Not Bombs and Human Beans Together plan to conduct their food-giving schedules as normally as they are allowed.
CruzioWorks, an allegedly liberal workspace and internet provider, has refused to reinstate the homeless Dan Madison and his disabled son, denied access after paying $300 for space and service on August 6th because of a tenant’s appearance-based apprehensions about the two. [See “Picketing Prejudice at CruzioWorks” at https://www.indybay.org/
Palo Alto has passed its ban against homeless in vehicles, denying the poor the right to finance their own shelter–which in California is often a vehicle, to go into effect in a month, and also driven those homeless without vehicles away from community centers at night. This is not based on any kind of crime wave, but simply a desire to reassure fearful NIMBY’s. [“Palo Alto votes to shut down Cubberley ‘shelter’ ” at http://www.paloaltoonline.com/
Meanwhile in Fresno, anti-homeless arson and shelter-destroying sweeps are on the menu for homeless folks [See “Who is Burning Down the Fresno Homeless Encampments?” at https://www.indybay.org/
Back in Santa Cruz, Mayor Bryants homeless-free Task Farce is laying the groundwork for redefining homeless people as drug addicts, bums, nuts, and drunks with a panel with a preconstructed agenda and a series of “experts” who are preparing the ground for more exclusionary measures. After persistent pressure, I was able to get city staff to put on line the agendas, staff reports, and audio recordings of these meetings at http://www.cityofsantacruz.
By Scott Keyes on August 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm
Many homeless people in Columbia, South Carolina are facing an arduous choice: vacate downtown or be arrested.
That’s because last week, the Columbia City Council unanimously approved a new plan — the Emergency Homeless Response” — to remove homeless people from the downtown business district. Here’s how the initiative, which was spearheaded by Councilman Cameron Runyan, will work.
Police officers will now be assigned to patrol the city center and keep homeless people out. They will also be instructed to strictly enforce the city’s “quality of life” laws, including bans on loitering, public urination, and other violations. And just to ensure that no one slips through, the city will set up a hotline so local businesses and residents can report the presence of a homeless person to police.
In order to accommodate all the homeless people who will now be banned from downtown, the city will partner with a local charity to keep an emergency shelter on the outskirts of town open 24 hours a day. However, it’s unlikely the shelter, which can handle 240 guests, will be enough to handle the local homeless population, which numbers more than six times the available beds.
Homeless people can stay at the shelter, but they’re not permitted to walk off the premises. In fact, Columbia will even post a police officer on the road leading to the shelter to ensure that homeless people don’t walk towards downtown. If they want to leave, they need to set up an appointment and be shuttled by a van.
In other words, the 1,518 homeless people in the Columbia-area now have a choice: get arrested downtown or be confined to a far-away shelter that you can’t readily leave. Jail or pseudo-jail.
Michael Stoops, Director of Community Organizing at the National Coalition for the Homeless, told ThinkProgress that this measure was the “most comprehensive anti-homeless measure that [he had] ever seen proposed in any city in the last 30 years.” He likened it to county poor farms that were prevalent throughout the Midwest many decades ago. “Using one massive shelter on the outskirts to house all a city’s homeless is something that has never worked anywhere in the country,” Stoops said.
Homeless advocates may soon file suit to overturn the plan, arguing that the plan violates homeless peoples’ rights to equal treatment under the law and freedom of assembly. The South Carolina ACLU is also exploring the matter. Susan Dunn, the group’s legal director, was highly critical. “The underlying design is that they want the homeless not to be visible in downtown Columbia,” Dunn said. “You can shuttle them somewhere or you can go to jail. That’s, in fact, an abuse of power.”
Columbia’s move mirrors an unfortunate trend sweeping cities across the country: criminalizing homelessness. Already this year, cities as disparate as Miami and Tampa to Palo Alto have passed various ordinances making it virtually illegal to be homeless inside city limits.
South Carolina approves plan to exile its homeless
Columbia homelessness plan draws heated criticism, threat of lawsuits
Published: August 17, 2013
TIM DOMINICK — email@example.com
- Plan for winter shelter’s 24-hour operation Columbia City Council has adopted a plan to turn the city’s riverfront winter shelter into a centralized, 24-hour operation for a few months while city leaders and homeless service providers look for a site away from downtown to comprehensive services. Here are the primary provisions of the plan:
• The 240-bed shelter on the banks of the Broad River would stay open two additional months – between about mid-September and March 30, 2014.
• The city would assign nine police officers in three-person shifts to patrol the Main Street business district to keep homeless people out of the city center. Meanwhile, the city would crack down on enforcing its loitering, public urination and other public nuisance laws on those who decline to use the expanded shelter.
• The city would post one officer at a key access road to the shelter to be sure homeless do not walk toward the city center.
• Homeless adults would be directed from the shelter to services they need such as job placement, medical or mental health treatment. If they refuse, they would be taken to jail.
• A telephone hot line would be set up for residents or businesspeople to call if they see a homeless person downtown.
• Christ Central Ministries, which had a contract to run the shelter last year, would provide three vans to shuttle homeless clients to daily, off-site appointments.
• Christ Central has agreed to absorb the expected $1.2 million it would cost to run a 24/7 operation beyond the current $500,000 the city has budgeted for the shelter.
• A citizens committee would monitor how the shelter is operating and be a sounding board for concerns from neighbors and businesses.
• A portable kitchen would be set up at the shelter to feed homeless clients in one central location and seek to end the range of meal programs run independently by churches and other concerned groups throughout downtown, causing clients to walk from place to place.
• Any inmates released from the county jail or from state prisons would be dropped off at the shelter instead of the Sumter Street bus terminal or other sites. Firm agreements have yet to be reached on this provision.
SOURCE: Emergency Homeless Response plan
By CLIF LeBLANC — firstname.lastname@example.org
Tempers are flaring as groups prepare to contest Columbia’s plan to remove homeless people from the city center, arguing it violates their constitutional rights.
Civil libertarians say the plan that City Council adopted unanimously last week violates their protections of equal treatment under the law and their freedom of assembly.
“There’s going to be a fistfight,” said attorney Tom Turnipseed, who for more than a decade has been involved in providing Sunday meals at Finlay Park through the Food Not Bombs program.
He said Friday a federal lawsuit will be filed and he expects that the city’s Appleseed Legal Justice Center and the state chapter of the ACLU will at least help if not join the suit.
“I guarantee it’s going to be more than Food Not Bombs,” said Turnipseed, an attorney, a former state senator and a longtime political activist.
Leaders for the Appleseed organization in Columbia and the American Civil Liberties Union stopped short of saying last week they will sue. But leaders of both organizations agree the policy is treading on constitutional protections.
Columbians have debated the “homeless issue” for nearly two decades in a city where on some days the homeless rival the number of shoppers, diners and pedestrians on key downtown streets. But City Council’s sweeping plan has brought the issue to a heated pitch.
Council – which includes three attorneys – agreed to Councilman Cameron Runyan’s proposal to turn the city’s riverfront winter shelter into a 24/7 center where homeless adults could not only sleep, but be provided meals and consult with caseworkers and others who would direct them to medical, mental health, substance abuse and job services.
The expanded center is set to open by Sept. 15 for about six months. It would be run by a faith-based organization that would provide transportation to discourage the homeless from meandering through downtown neighborhoods and businesses.
Perhaps the most controversial feature of the plan involves increasing police patrols in a 36-block business district and at the riverfront shelter to direct the homeless there for help. If they refuse, they could be arrested under a range of public nuisance laws that include loitering, public intoxication, public urination, aggressive panhandling or trespassing.
“I was concerned that it is criminalizing homelessness,” said Sue Berkowitz of the Appleseed center. “People could be targeted and made a suspect class because they’re walking down the street.”
Susan Dunn, the legal director for the state’s Charleston-based ACLU chapter, shares the same concerns.
“Police are not supposed to coerce people into behavior,” Dunn said. “The whole nexus of the relationship between law enforcement and the citizen is that … they have to have reasonable suspicion of a crime.
“The underlying design is that they want the homeless not to be visible in downtown Columbia,” Dunn said. “You can shuttle them somewhere or you can go to jail. That’s, in fact, an abuse of power.”
Runyan argues that his proposal is an act of concern for the homeless with a tough-love approach.
“This is not about new laws. The homeless can’t be exempt from laws the rest of us live by,” Runyan said. “We’re not allowed to be drunk in public. We’re not allowed to urinate in public or camp in public places.
“This is about help and hope for people who are on the streets of this city.”
Asked if he discussed the legality of his plan with the city attorney’s office, Runyan said, “Why would I? The only time you would engage the city attorney’s office is when you’re going to change anything. We’re not changing anything.”
However, Runyan said the city attorney’s office knew for months about his proposal and did not raise concerns.
At least one Columbia lawyer agrees with the policy.
“I’ll debate anybody about the constitutional issue as to whether my rights are equal to the rights of the homeless,’’ said attorney Eric Bland, whose law office is at the corner of Bull and Calhoun streets. “I don’t agree there’s a constitutional crisis here.
“I work at Ground Zero of the homelessness problem,” Bland said. “The homeless have gotten to the point where they enter my property. They come inside and panhandle or ask to use the bathroom. When they’re told no, they get upset. I’ve had homeless key the cars of people in my parking lot. They sleep on my porch. They go through the trash.
“My employees feel unsafe. Clients feel unsafe. I have to carry a gun,” he said.
Bland said drug transactions take place near his law office. Friday morning, a woman and man he believes are homeless got into a profanity-laced argument just outside the firm, he said.
“The lawyers that are screaming aren’t the ones at Ground Zero of this,” Bland said. “They’re not the ones paying the taxes.”
He and a fellow businessman had been contemplating suing the city.
“It’s the city’s obligation to provide for the health and welfare of its citizens,” Bland said. The homeless “don’t have the right to stop people from the use and enjoyment of their property.”
Homeless people who enjoy the shelter, meals and other programs available to them through city government or a myriad of private providers must accept that “you’ve got to stay inside the system,” Bland said.
Legal, practical problems
Berkowitz and Dunn say that deciding who’s homeless might become a challenge.
“How do we identify who is homeless and who is not?” asks Berkowitz of Columbia.
Dunn, of the ACLU, goes further. “The police are being invited to profile by how somebody looks,” she said. “If you appear to be a homeless person, you have no right to be in an area because you’re interfering with business?
“That sidewalk belongs to someone who does not look particularly great just as much as it does to the rest of us,” Dunn said.
She also wonders how the city will deal with the children of homeless people who are arrested. “It’s not addressing the complexity of the problem. A shelter can get them a place to go. But it can’t get them a home.”
Dunn questions Runyan’s argument that the city is merely enforcing its laws.
She asked Columbians to think of it in another way: Imagine the same city laws being trained at teenagers.
“Yes, these laws are in place,” Dunn said. “But they’re going to use them against this particular community.
“What (the homeless) are really being arrested for is not going to the shelter.”
Dunn also wonders how the city can keep private groups, including many churches, from serving meals wherever and whenever they chose.
“The City Council doesn’t have the authority to decide who is going to be generous,” she said.
Turnipseed told council members the night they adopted the plan that Food Not Guns would “go to war” if it is told it can no longer use Finlay Park, a public facility.
Dunn said the ACLU will have to wait to see if they city applies the same crackdown techniques to Five Points revelers, for example. To have legal standing to file a lawsuit, a homeless person or one of the organizations that provides services, would have to ask the ACLU to sue on their behalf.
The small Appleseed organization has turned to a Washington law firm for a legal analysis before deciding whether it will sue, Berkowitz said.
Is message being lost?
Runyan, who has been working on the homelessness issue almost since his term in office began last year, said he does not understand the pushback.
“We don’t think there is any (constitutional) violation,” he said.
“This is not about hurting people. It’s about helping them,” he said. “But we’re not going to allow them to live on our streets anymore.”
The inability of city government or private providers to solve the persistent presence of homeless people in the heart of Columbia has created an atmosphere that attracts that population but leaves them to their own devices most of the day and night, many who work with the homeless said.
The problem is growing worse, though no hard numbers are available on the homeless population inside the city limits, Runyan and neighborhood leaders said.
Runyan laments that the public conversation “has become all about the punitive part of it.”
He contends that most homeless people will accept the use of the expanded shelter.
“There are people who are going to resist it,” Runyan said. “It’s unfortunate that we’re going to have to give them some tough love.”
He gets riled at the objections coming from civil liberty organizations like Appleseed and the ACLU.
“Is the ACLU going to crawl up Greenville’s and Charleston’s backs?” Runyan asks.
“What they’re arguing for, is to leave the homeless on the streets of this city without hope or help.”
Reach LeBlanc at (803) 771-8664.
Friday Aug 16th, 2013 12:40 AM
Last Saturday Occupy Santa Cruz and its Homeless Justice Working Group resolution proposed and endorsed a picket against CruzioWorks discriminatory termination of a signed and paid-for contract to use the group’s 24-hour workspace. Building on this decision, HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) decided the following Wednesday to broaden the scope of the picketing and protest Friday.
The protest will collect and document accounts of discrimination against homeless people at the nearby library, in public spaces downtown, and at downtown businesses. The picket’s focus Friday is still the Dan Madison case. He was abruptly and unlawfully terminated without any specific reason several hours after paying, apparently on the instigation of a co-tenant in the building.
The anonymous woman was made nervous by the sight of Dan’s son, Gryphon, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, minding two bikes loaded with their possessions in the CruzioWorks parking lot which she felt “encouraged junkies.”
Police & sheriffs reportedly continue to sweep homeless campsites, seizing homeless property and destroying it in violation of state law and the state and federal Constitutions.
At the last Friday CruzioWorks protest on 8-9, Mystaya Magawa an older woman in tears, reported losing her job and then her health care and her job in Bakersfield. A cancer & MS patient newly arrived in Santa Cruz and homeless with her teen-aged daughter, she described how Starbucks made her leave the coffeeshop after buying coffee because she had her backpack with her. How unlike Bakersfield, police made her stand up when resting on the sidewalk. How she was told it was illegal to cover-up with a blanket at night outside. (Listen to Mystaya’s account in the last five minutes of the audio file at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/
Hate cartoons in the Sentinel by de Cinzo portraying homeless people as needle-strewing fly-ridden bums while the Mayor creates a phony “Public Security” Citizens Task Force. The group, meeting at a police department ever eager to have new “tools” like the Sleeping Ban, Stop-and-Frisk, the end of needle exchange, curfews, triple-fine zones, and other policestate-heavy measures, is headed by a Boardwalk publicist and a homeless-hostile ex-Cop.
The pre-fabricated agenda excluding most public testimony justifiles a NIMBY crackdown on the limited services homeless people currently get. The ambitious and smiley-faced Homeless (Lack of) Services Center director Monica Martinez backs the measures while denying homeless clients the documentation they need to avert harassment citations for sleeping and covering up with blankets–as the Paul Lee loft closes down to any newcomers for three months.
City Council and the Board of Supervisors have squandered over $100,000 to fund a “Security Gate” out at the Homeless (Lack of ) Services Center to pander to the paranoia and homeless-get-out agenda of groups like the Santa Cruz Neighbors, the Downtown Association, and Take Back Santa Cruz. (Some activists intend to denounce the waste at Oral Communications 9 AM at the Board meeting Tuesday 8-20 on the 5th Floor of the County Building).
Instead of pointing out that crime has not risen in Santa Cruz for decades–other than smaller property crimes like bike theft– liberals nervously pander to the “Safety” myth that hysteria hotheads preaching, endlessly harping on the atypical killings of Shannon Collins, Butchie Baker, and Elizabeth Baker. This kind of political cowardice and opportunism is similar to the Obama regime’s signing on to the foreign wars, the war on terror, domestic surveillance, and the heightened attacks on whistleblowers.
THE MADISON CASE
It is this myth that seems to have prompted the complaint against Dan Madison by a still unidentified tenant for simply having a homeless son standing next to a bike filled with homeless possessions. Worse, and more telling, the “liberal” CruzioWorks management had no problem in summarily denying Madison’s 24-hour service (violating a 30-day notice requirement) without even giving him a hearing.
Nearly a week has passed and Madison’s e-mail requesting a clear explanation from CruzioWorks has gone unanswered (See http://www.indybay.org/
Attempts by Cruzio’s customers to get a straight answer have also failed (http://www.indybay.org/
If we patronize businesses that bill themselves as liberals but actually take their marching orders from NIMBY bigots, if we accept their succumbing to the myth that homeless people are a “Public Safety” danger, we enter a truly dangerous time.
While activists will be encouraging folks to either not patronize CruzioWorks or to demand some explanation for the exclusionary action, we will also be asking homeless people to speak out on abusive practices elsewhere. Such practices include Head Librarian Teresas Landers’s new “no signs in the library” policy directing a homeless person to turn his sign to the wall–the man had a political sign denouncing George H.W. Bush–or leave the library.
Landers also has implemented a “bring your backpack into the library, get kicked out” notice given to Madison a few days ago. Madison also reported a thuggish “wake up or get out” policy by security guards for nodding off in the library.
I’ve also received reports of First Alarm heavies excluding homeless people from the library grounds during daylight hours before the library opens, driving them from the grass at City Hall, and stalking them in San Lorenzo Park (See “First Alarm Security Guards Profile and Stalk San Lorenzo Park Users” at http://www.indybay.org/
Sweeps on the levee, in Harvey West Park (one this morning), and in the Pogonip are on-going and threaten the dignity, health, and safety of the homeless community.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE
Homeless folks and those who wish to oppose this crackdown are invited to join the picket, witness, and/or testify to what they have seen. If you can’t make the protest but have seen particular abuses, please post the details on-line or contact HUFF at 831-423-4833 and leave your account.
To paraphrase Edmund Burke, “All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good folks to do nothing.”
On the other hand, consider this posting by activist Colin Campbell Clyde: http://www.facebook.com/photo.
The choice is ours.
For more background on the case go to http://www.indybay.org/
|Title:||Picketing Prejudice at CruzioWorks|
|START DATE:||Friday August 16|
|TIME:||1 -3 PM|
|In front of CruzioWorks HQ in Downtown Santa Cruz at Church and Cedar Streets|
|Contact Name||Robert Norse|
|Email Address||rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com|
|Address||309 Cedar PMB #14B Santa Cruz, CA 95060|
|Dan Madison, denied 24-hour service after he’d paid for it CruzioWorks on 8-6, has received no response to his written demand that service be restored. (http://www.indybay.org/
HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) has also received no reply or further information from manager James Hackett or anyone else there. No managers and workers appeared to address the issue at an informational tabling and protest outside CruzioWorks 8-9.
Steve Schnaar, a Cruzio customer, got a boilerplate response that failed to reassure him. (http://www.indybay.org/
No activists or customers have reported getting any substantive response from Cruzioworks about the “incident” which they claim justified breaking their contract with Dan.
They have not described any specifics as to why the management responded to what appears to be a fear-and-prejudice-based stereotyping of Dan and his son Gryphon by a tenant in the building.
Meanwhile, AIDS survivor 70-year-old David Silva revealed that he too had been denied services there once he told them he was homeless.
A longer description of the background and issues is posted at http://www.indybay.org/
NOTES FROM NORSE: The climate of darkening discrimination in Santa Cruz has not yet erupted into arson as against