Thursday, September 4, 2014

9.3.14 Recap, "We Love Homeless Hate Laws"

On September 3rd, 2014, the City of Fort Lauderdale passed amendments to the public indecency code and the storage on public property law on second hearing. They also unanimously sent the new panhandling expansion and camping ban in downtown to a 2nd hearing that will take place on September 17th.

They represent 4 out of 5 laws that the city announced at the beginning of the year. The last is a law first proposed as a series of preposterous bureaucratic obstacles to prevent practically anyone from consistently sharing food for  the homeless in downtown. You know, in consistent enough to keep them alive and healthy.

If this writer were to think of a word to describe the atmosphere at this commission, it was "tantrummy." Practically everyone supporting these laws felt the need to explain to everyone how much they cared about the homeless... before then explaining why they want them to stay as far away from them as possible and that they feel perfectly entitled to deprive anyone who doesn't obey their laws of the right to sleep, eat, or urinate. Good for them. Many homeless advocates were in a bit of a huff as well - one was threatened with expulsion, and virtually all persons opposing the anti-homeless laws received a stony silence from the city commission, even when directly asked questions about laws beings discussed. Comment times were also mysteriously shortened 1 minute each after Raymond Cox's filibuster effort at the last meeting.

5 months of resistance at these meetings seems to have worn everyone a little thin on patience to hear about the terrible suffering they are creating for actual, real people in downtown...unfortunately there's a lot more to come. It remains to be seen how well the enforcers of these laws can shield themselves from the consequences of these actions.

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