Sausage biscuits get temporary reprieve:
Charities handing out free food in downtown’s Moore Square won’t get stopped by police this weekend after a City Council committee voted Wednesday to temporarily relax a ban on such distributions.
The move came after a three-hour public hearing that drew dozens of speakers angry about the recent crackdown on food distribution to the homeless and less fortunate. No one spoke in favor of banning the events, though some suggested that the one-block Moore Square park might not be the best place for charity work.
It appears as if the bulk of the people involved genuinely care, and are trying to figure out a way in which all citizens concerned will be served well. But even well-meaning folks can stumble when it comes to an issue as complex and difficult to solve as homelessness. Here is an excerpt from an exchange I had with a friend:
I'm sorry, but when I see something like this:
"Moore Square, near the Marbles children’s museum and a revitalized business area in City Market, is a pleasant place for families and for weekend outings. The city has an interest in seeing that it remains so. Regular Saturday and Sunday gatherings of charitable efforts to feed the needy in that area could be disruptive."
it makes me want to scream.
When you're homeless, there aren't a whole lot of options on "places to go" to spend time. A majority of the real estate in any city (or town) is private property, where homeless can be charged with trespassing. So that leaves public places like parks. And every single city park has got some citizens group that would prefer the homeless not go there.
I'm sure there are behind-the-scenes issues with property owners and developers leaning on city officials to pass or enforce this or that ordinance. There always are. But when you're homeless, one of your biggest challenges deals with freedom of movement, or the freedom just to be. Restricting those things even more won't "gently nudge" the homeless into greener pastures. They're not an endangered species that needs to be moved to a preserve. As a matter of fact, this particular species is thriving, and we need to do a hell of a lot more to reverse the growth of this demographic.
But in the meantime, we need to remember: the homeless haven't lost their citizenship, they haven't lost their connection to the Bill of Rights, and they haven't lost their need to be treated with dignity and respect by their fellow citizens.