sights & sounds

June 1, 2010

reclaiming the streets

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jay @ 12:56 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the NY Times; emphases mine:

Starchild is one of a handful of working men and women fighting a proposed city law that would make it illegal to sit or lie on public sidewalks in San Francisco for most of the day. Backed by the city’s Police Department and Mayor Gavin Newsom, the “sit-lie” law is being hailed by supporters as a weapon to combat aggressive behavior by the city’s myriad sidewalk dwellers.

But advocates of the homeless and some sex workers see it as a direct attack on the city’s weakest, as well as on the city’s own image as a tolerant refuge for live and let live.

Advocates for men and women of the night like Starchild say the proposed law has the potential to make their difficult lives — what with the fear of arrest, disease and occasionally dangerous clients — even more arduous.

Tony Winnicker, a spokesman for Mr. Newsom, a Democrat who is running for lieutenant governor, said the law was not meant to target any specific group, but to protect residents from harassment in neighborhoods like the Haight-Ashbury, the hippie-friendly enclave where groups of youths still congregate to drink, panhandle and smoke marijuana.

“It’s about unacceptable behavior,” Mr. Winnicker said, “and giving police another tool to deal with it.”

Leaving aside the utter absurdity of denying someone’s right to occupy a public space they’re forced to maintain with their own tax dollars1, the fact that cops are focusing on petty ‘infractions’ like loitering speaks volumes about their priorities – it’s completely disingenuous for supporters to pretend that this law has anything to do with public safety. (more…)

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