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Liberal Berkeley May Fine Homeless $75 for Sitting Down

A new measure up for a vote in one of America's liberal bastions would make it illegal for homeless people to sit or lie on the sidewalk.

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Among the top contributors to Measure S is Panoramic Interests, LLC (donor of $10,000)—a major infill developer and landlord which, according to its website, “was the largest private landlord of UC Berkeley students" from 2004 to 2007. Other big checks came in from First Shattuck, LLC, a commercial real estate company ($10,000), and $5000 from Constitution Square, a real estate management firm based in San Rafael. Another $3500 in pro-S money came from Townsend II, LLC, a capital management company in San Francisco. 
 

A little sanity and humanity

In a sane and humane society, the sit-lie push goes against both heart and mind. Yet our culture has become fixated on separation from discomforting realities and “inconvenient truths.” We send drone planes to do “our” dirty work abroad (even some local police departments are seeking drones now). We fortify borders with fences and paramilitary outfits to stifle immigration, as if such armaments in any way address emigration’s roots in poverty and economic desperation. And cities across America, now even Berkeley, seek to disappear homeless people via legal fiat instead of by creating job opportunities and housing.

Berkeley may well pass Measure S, as liberal San Francisco did in 2010. And, facts being facts, homelessness and poverty will persist. Homeless people will continue to be just like everyone else, except without a roof over their heads. Some will be “aggressive” in their efforts to stay alive; others will hide and seek a quiet survival. “They” will smell bad, as logic would dictate, lacking showers or laundry money. Some will yell, others will cry, some will ask for money.

I ask you to ask yourself: what society is this that demonizes and disregards its poorest residents—the very ones who need the most help? How have we devolved to the point where making sitting on a sidewalk illegal is deemed a solution to anything—even when it’s been proven a failure?

It’s time to draw a line in the sand: No more crackdowns on homeless people. Housing and employment are cheaper—and far more humane and just—than harassing and incarcerating the poorest of the poor.

PS—please visit  www.noonsberkeley.com to learn more about the Berkeley sit-lie fight.

Christopher D. Cook, an award-winning journalist and author, worked as communications director for the No on S campaign in Berkeley. His work has appeared in Harper’s, The Economist, the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. His website is  www.christopherdcook.com.

 

Christopher D. Cook, an award-winning journalist and author, worked as communications director for the No on S campaign in Berkeley. His work has appeared in Harper’s, The Economist, the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. His website is www.christopherdcook.com.

 
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