Just when I thought that some progress was being made in the struggle to prevent cities from criminalizing people who are homeless this ugly incident rears it's head in my own back yard. First the good news, see this story about the US Department of Justice becoming involved in a case that resulted in a court finding that "It’s unconstitutional to ban the homeless from sleeping outside."
I guess Muriel Bowser, the current Mayor of Washington, DC didn't get the memo. What you'll see in this local news report video is a real life example of criminalizing the homeless. Making matters worse the police are being accompanied by a Deputy Mayor who apparently sees this as a great photo opportunity and a way to appease the well to do residents whose sensibilities are offended by having to see people who are homeless from their balconies. This exemplifies the hypocrisy of Mayor Bowser's campaign promises to end homelessness in the District of Columbia. This small group of homeless persons were doing nothing more than finding a place to sleep outdoors rather than risk their personal belongings and safety by staying in one of the city's notoriously dangerous shelters. For the administration to publicly say that, these people should stay in a shelter rather than sleeping outdoors, speaks to a level of ignorance about the shelter system in DC that is nothing short of astounding. I would challenge the deputy mayor to spend one night at the 2nd & D Street shelter without her security detail. She wouldn't be there for 15 minutes.
This city administration like administrations before it talks the talk about their profound commitment to ending homelessness. Yet their behavior speaks volumes about their intentions. Removing these few people from their makeshift shelter home in facts puts them back on the street to sleep in doorways, on park benches and wherever else they can find a spot sheltered from the elements. Shame on you Muriel Bowser. My fondest wish for you is that the Department of Justice takes you to task for this gross violation of the Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment. You of course will hold a press conference defending your undying commitment to ending homelessness and assure the public that shelters are safe and readily available. Why then Mayor Bowser, do you think that hundreds of people who are homeless sleep outside. Think about that!