Got an interested comment in response to a posting recently about how the APD and homeless interact. Thought I’d run the entire post (and my response in bold) in it’s entirety.
Again, many vague assertions of police officers in Asheville allegedly trampling on the rights of the homeless, but NO FACTS, FIGURES OR STATISTICS.
You’d think that if the cops in Asheville are so blatantly running roughshod over the rights of those in the streets, SOMEONE would take take to provide facts and figures.
Anyway, read on:
Jerry, your post illustrates very clearly my initial impression of the criminalization issue — that its behaviors that are criminalized, and behavior is a choice. I never had problems with the police myself because I never broke the law, easy, right?
I can point you to 25 homeless people right now that haven’t been in trouble with the law because they didn’t break the law.
Wrong. When I looked a little more closely into the issue, it became clear that it wasn’t about choosing to break the law. It was about laws that are selectively enforced — like the fact that I trespassed regularly and unknowingly, because the no- trespassing sign was somewhere no one reasonable could see it, but I who didn’t “look” homeless was allowed to do so, while others were ticketed for the same thing.
If there were no signs, how did you know YOU were trespassing? The legal code used here in Asheville and the majority of the rest of the country says that if you ‘trespass’ AFTER you’ve been told, THEN you will get a ticket. So NO ONE gets a ticket for trespassing where there are no signs. It’s only AFTER they’ve been warned (and many times repeatedly) that the cops start handing out tickets.
It’s about police enforcing laws that don’t exist,
“Enforcing laws that don’t exist…” Tell me, exactly how does THAT happen?
like pretending the “don’t sleep in a public place if it interferes with normal traffic” ordinance actually says “don’t sleep in public at all ever.” It’s about forcing people to break the law – creating legal catch-22s like the camping ordinance, making it illegal to do what people with nowhere else to go have no choice but to do.
Exactly how do the cops ‘FORCE’ people to break the law? Entice? Perhaps as witnesses by COINTELPRO. But FORCE? C’mon!
And it’s about ignoring what the law actually says, like the camping ordinance that specifies it won’t be enforced when there isn’t emergency shelter for the public, which there currently isn’t — but it’s enforced anyway.
And, yes, believe me, I would MUCH rather be working on Hearthfire or a campground or anything else more obviously service-oriented. Unfortunately, since the City has chosen to make sure people can’t even sleep in the woods safely, those longer-term projects have to take a back seat to helping people on the ground right now. And the fastest, broadest-spectrum way to do that is to push through this moratorium asking the City to honor what the ordinance already says and stop harassing people who don’t have any other shelter.
As for the rest of your post, you know, I usually put a lot of effort into taking the high road and not making things personal when I disagree with someone. But you just made it personal by insulting me, when we’ve never even met before.
Alas, I wasn’t talking about you. Nice that you thought I was though.
For the past several months, I and others have been working our butts off to make real change happen. Of course, it’s understandable you wouldn’t know that, since you haven’t been part of it. Why not? If you’re calling me lazy, where’s the list of what you’ve accomplished for Asheville’s homeless this year?
This year? Obviously you don’t know me either as I’ve been on the road since February shooting for difference media outlets and social justice groups.
There are other leaders in our community who really do make me look lazy — but you certainly haven’t been one of them and have no business criticizing us if you’re not rolling your sleeves up with us.