Free Speech Is One Thing, Vagrants, Another

BERKELEY, CA — Hardly a stranger to political movements, this is a city that has championed free speech, no nukes, the antiwar movement and now: no sitting on the sidewalk.

During years of economic downturn, cities across the country have reported rising vagrancy and rushed to pass laws banning aggressive panhandling, giving food away in public parks and even smelling foul.

This bastion of populist politics is no exception.  The City Council and mayor have put a measure on the November ballot that would ban sitting and lying on commercial sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., at the risk of a $75 citation.

“These laws are an example of a startling national trend to criminalize homelessness,” said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, an advocacy group.

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2 comments on “Free Speech Is One Thing, Vagrants, Another

  1. Pingback: Free Speech Is One Thing, Vagrants, Another | Flash Travel & Tourism News |

  2. I get that advocates of the homeless would see it as a trend to criminalize them but I think they are barking up the wrong tree. Homelessness is a crime, a crime of our government. I suggest that all the well-meaning advocates shepherd the homeless, in every community across the nation, to languish, smell foul, panhandle and sleep on sidewalks, sit on the steps, in front of EVERY TOWN HALL, EVERY COUNTY OFFICE, EVERY FEDERAL OFFICE, including the White House.

    Pitting neighbor against neighbor has become the modus operandi of the government. A house divided……

    When local businesses can no longer attract customers, they are forced to close their doors. When they close their doors, the food pantries have less to offer, free feeds in public parks will become a thing of the past and the homeless will own the streets. When people lose their businesses they won’t donate to churches or organizations – they’ll join the ranks of the homeless sleeping on the sidewalks in front of empty store fronts where commerce and industry once stood.

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