criminalization of homelessness

It's No Crime to Be Poor; Let's Keep It That Way

There are plenty of reasons why a homeless person might actually prefer not to go to a shelter--contagious diseases, tainted food, sex offenders, abusive practices by shelter staff, and better alternatives, like sleeping in one's own car.  Despite all these, shelters remain continuously full, and people are turned away every night of the year.  That's because there are so many homeless--more than 12,000 in Denver alone.

Homelessness is one of the few "growth trends" in our present economy.  And it is, indeed, a purely economic phenomenon.  Nobody chooses to be homeless.  Kerouac was talking about low-budget tourism--a very different thing.  This is not tourism, not a vacation, not camping.  Let's be clear about that.

The three leading causes of homelessness are job loss, the high cost of housing, and break-up of a family.  Mental illness and substance abuse do not cause homelessness.  There are plenty of people who have these problems and yet have a roof over their heads.  They have housing for the same reason you do.  Either they have the money to pay for it, or someone who has the money is willing to provide a home for them.  Those are the only reasons why anyone has a home.

Four Arrests at Denver May Day March; Occupy Needs to Learn More About Solidarity

Four persons were arrested and a two-year-old child was hit by a bicycle-riding cop yesterday during Denver's May Day March.   According to witnesses, the behavior of one or more of the parade marshalls contributed to the problems, rather than mitigating them, and marchers abandoned their arrested comrades, rather than assisting them or otherwise showing solidarity.

The problems commenced after one marcher began dancing in the street.  A marshall came up behind the marcher, seized him, and attempted to push him along, instead of approaching him face-to-face, and using verbal communication.  The dancer, taken by surprise and unable to see who was pushing him, began resisting what must have seemed like an attack.  Cops then closed in and arrested the dancing marcher, though they did not arrest the marshall.  The original charge was jaywalking, which is not an arrestable offense.  This charge was later changed to obstructing traffic.

During the incident, a cop, apparently unable to control his zeal at the prospect of participating in an arrest, ran his bicycle into a little two-year-old girl.  The child's father then began speaking out very strongly in defense of his daughter, only to be rebuked by the same marshall who had caused the original problem.

Later in the march, another person was arrested, also for jaywalking, changed during booking to obstructing traffic.  This person  had been slated to perform later that day in the General Strike activities at Civic Center Park.

Three Officers on Administrative Leave For Slashing Homeless Camp

<code>Three Grand Junction Police Officers were placed on administrative leave on Friday May 7th under allegations of damaging homeless peoples’ property. The officers are under criminal investigation by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department and under internal investigation at the PD.
 

On Monday May 3rd, GJ Police Officers were in the area of a well-established homeless camp near the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers. Some residents were denied access to the area by the police during their visit. No known residents were in their camps at the time. Residents later returned to slashed tents, scattered belongings and slashed bike tires. On Wednesday, Jacob Richards, long time Red Pill editor and contributor and Housing First! No More Deaths! activist, filed a complaint about the incident. By Friday, three officers were placed on leave. The story was picked up by all local media outlets, the Denver Post, and even hit the AP wire.

The fact that the GJPD are conducting an internal investigation and the Sheriff’s Department is investigating the matter criminally indicates that the powers-that-be may actually be taking this seriously.

Criminalization and harassment of the homeless is nothing new to Grand Junction. Police officers and the law itself target the homeless. The City attempted to virtually illegalize flying a sign in the city in the summer of 2009 as an emergency ordinance, but was shut down by the power of the people. In July of 2009, two undercover GJ police officers were ousted from the organization Housing First! No More Deaths!. Panhandling within a median began became illegal in the fall of 2009, and overnight Colorado West Park became a median without any formal process.

As odd as it may seem, the system might actually bring some form of justice for the houseless, and some accountability to the GJPD.
 

Harrassed and Manhandled: GJPD and the Homeless

Saturday, April 3rd, 5pm. Whitman Park Grand Junction, Colorado

In an all to common of incident, three houseless people were contacted by the Grand Junction Police Department, for nothing more then being in a park frequented by houseless people.  Officer Winch approached Juile and Johnny A Martinez and engaged the two in small talk about an incident from the day before in the park. Officer Winch then asked to see a waterbottle that Juile had. She gave it to him. He smelled it and "got pissed saying 'You lied to me.'" said Juile. Officer Winch then said that he wanted to see what was in Julie's backpack, she refused, and according to Julie and Martinez Winch yanked the backpack from Juile and began searching. "That's when he cuffed me," Juile said. They had Juile in cuffs for over half an hour for a drinking in public ticket.  

When Juile's partner, Lumber Jack, came back to the park he headed to the public bathrooms where now two officers and a sergeant were talking to Juile and Martinez. "I told them I just needed to go to the bathroom," he said. "Then I told them they have no right to search her backpack. That's when they grabbed me and took me to the ground." Lumber's arm was turning more and more purple.  

"He was so verbally aggressive," said Juile. "I asked for a female officer to search me, but he searched me anyway," she added.

After a little over half-an-hour all three people were released all with blue tickets. Julie for drinking in the park, Lumber Jack for crossing a street while intoxicated, and Johnny Martinez for interfering with an officer for refusing to leave while his friends were being manhandled, cuffed, and ticketed. 

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