I was told stories by my uncles about serving in World War II, how they would try to keep themselves warm with newspapers.

So what did the fine people of  Pensacola do this summer? They passed a law making it illegal to cover oneself with a newspaper, or anything else of insulating value, while attempting to sleep outside.

Sec. 8-1-22 Camping prohibited;

(1) For purposes of this section "camping" is defined as:

  (a) Cooking over an open flame or fire out-of-doors; or

  (b) Bathing in public for purposes of personal hygiene; or

  (c) Sleeping out-of-doors under one of the following circumstances:

    (i) Adjacent to or inside a tent or sleeping bag, or

    (ii) Atop and/or covered by materials such as a bedroll, cardboard, newspapers, or...

Apparently people in Pensascola couldn't look forward six months, or understand the terms "winter" and "cold," because on January 23rd, 2014 the temperature got down into the 20's.

One more enlightened member of the Pensacola community addressed the City Council as to this issue a few weeks ago:

"Good evening, City Council. I just wanted to bring to your attention, WEAR ABC News posted a sort of Public Service Announcement, if you will, just reminding people with this cute little meme on their Facebook page. It's a cute little dog, and it says "If it's too cold for you, it's too cold for them. Please bring your pets inside. Please share to get out this message."

I would just like to say that I fully agree with this, that if it's too cold for you, it's too cold for your pets. But I would also like to ask that the City Council extend that same courtesy to our fellow human beings. The temperatures have reached the teens recently. It's expected to be a hard freeze tonight. And because of that, I’d like to ask the Council to respectfully reconsider the "camping" ordinance that I believe several other people have mentioned, that does prohibit sleeping with a blanket, a sleeping bag. I think we should extend that courtesy to our fellow humans. I mean, we do it for the animals, and I think we should respect life at all stages."

There are people in the world who dream of curing cancer. There are people in the world who imagine living life in peace.  And then there are the people who pass laws making it that much harder for the unfortunate to get by, who make it illegal for veterans with nowhere to go, those mentally ill with no one willing or able to help them, to wrap themselves with a blanket or a newspaper and try to get a few hours of sleep.

There is hope: Pensacola is apparently attempting to repeal the ordinance next week.

Next week, the city will be considering amending the City Code to remove this awful ordinance.  I would encourage everyone reading this to contact the Mayor of Pensacola, Ashton J. Hayward, and let him know that this lack of basic humanity must stop.
Which set of people will the City Council and Mayor of Pensacola choose to be?

5:46 PM PT: From today's Pensacola paper:

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward has reversed positions on a city ordinance that makes it a crime for the homeless to sleep on public property with a blanket.

In his weekly newsletter, distributed Friday, the mayor said he had decided — after “reflecting and praying” — to support an ordinance that would repeal the blanket ban — the most controversial provision of the year-old law. The heading of the email message was “Blankets for everyone: A path forward on homelessness.”

Council members will discuss Myers’ proposal at Tuesday’s agenda conference, for a possible vote Thursday.


Originally posted to jpmassar on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:56 PM PST.

Also republished by Kossacks for the Homeless Person, Occupy Wall Street, and Dailykos Kossacks For Action.

Your Email has been sent.