Quote of the Day – October 25, 2012
During years of economic downturn, cities across the country have reported rising vagrancy and rushed to pass laws banning aggressive panhandling, giving food away in public parks and even smelling foul.
This bastion of populist politics is no exception. The City Council and mayor have put a measure on the November ballot that would ban sitting and lying on commercial sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., at the risk of a $75 citation.
“These laws are an example of a startling national trend to criminalize homelessness,” said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, an advocacy group.
In a 2011 survey of 234 cities, the group found that 40 percent prohibited camping, 33 percent banned sitting and lying down in public places and 53 percent outlawed begging. Recent examples of laws intended to shoo off, keep out, or otherwise restrict the homeless are everywhere. In July, Newport Beach, Calif., a seaside city south of Los Angeles, instituted rules banning public library patrons who smell, park their shopping carts near entrances or sleep in the library.[...]-Excerpted from Malia Wollan’s article “Free Speech is One Thing, Vagrants Another“, originally published by the New York Times.