Quote of the Day, February 5th, 2013, excerpted from “2 Years in Jail for Sitting on a Milk Crate? The Shocking Ways America Punishes Poor People Living on the Street (Hard Times, USA) ” by Tana Ganeva on AlterNet:
In 2008, Atlanta police orchestrated an unusual sting: officers shed their uniforms to go undercover as tourists and office workers, a stunt designed to entrap beggars in the city’s tourist areas. Forty-four people were arrested for panhandling in one month. The best part about the sting, police officials said at the time, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, was that while actual tourists rarely bothered to come back to testify about their terrible abuse at the hands of the city’s beggars, the undercover cops would make for enthusiastic witnesses. At the time, Atlanta had banned panhandling within 15 feet of an ATM, bus stop, taxi stand, payphone, public toilet — and anywhere after dark.
Laws that restrict panhandling are designed to target poor people living on the street. Other examples of laws that apply almost exclusively to the unhoused include bans on sitting or lying down on the sidewalk, eating in public, setting up camp or sleeping in a park or other public places. Advocates say these laws are used as a tool to drive the homeless out of sight.