Brought to you by the party apparatchniks of Columbia, South Carolina.
Police officers will now be assigned to patrol the city center and keep homeless people out. They will also be instructed to strictly enforce the city's "quality of life" laws, including bans on loitering, public urination, and other violations. And just to ensure that no one slips through, the city will set up a hotline so local businesses and residents can report the presence of a homeless person to police.Officer. There's a, a, a HOMLESS PERSON a hundred yards away. I'm looking right at her. She's, she's, she's STANDING THERE HOMELESS. Help, I'm so afraid.
In order to accommodate all the homeless people who will now be banned... a local charity ((will maintain an)) emergency shelter on the outskirts of town open 24 hours a day... it's unlikely the shelter, which can handle 240 guests, will be enough to handle the local homeless population, which numbers more than six times ((that)).
Homeless people can stay at the shelter, but they're not permitted to walk off the premises. In fact, Columbia will even post a police officer on the road leading to the shelter to ensure that homeless people don’t walk towards downtown. If they want to leave, they need to set up an appointment and be shuttled by a van.
But you aren't. Go away.
How, you might wonder, is one identified homeless? The ACLU wonders the same thing.
Dunn, of the ACLU, goes further. "The police are being invited to profile by how somebody looks," she said. "If you appear to be a homeless person, you have no right to be in an area because you're interfering with business?"Obviously, if you are dressed in a business suit, you are not interfering with business. This suggests that a good tactic for the the ACLU in this case would be to invest in business suits for all the homeless.
What do Columbia officials think about this obvious discrimination?
Runyan, who has been working on the homelessness issue almost since his term in office began last year, said he does not understand the pushback.Busted?
"We don't think there is any (constitutional) violation," he said.
Interestingly, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled otherwise in a similar case.
The state of Michigan may no longer toss homeless men and women in jail for the crime of asking for a few coins so that they can eat. According to decision handed down by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit last week, a decades-old state law prohibiting "begging in a public place" violates the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee. In Grand Rapids, Michigan alone, the law was enforced 409 times against people asking for money. People arrested under this law faced up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. One person was jailed for holding a sign reading "Cold and Hungry, God Bless."Maybe the ACLU could squeeze in a lawsuit along with the cost of the business suits.