Homelessness — Human Rights supersede Civil Rights

homeless BofR

For decades, fighters for social justice have been fighting for our civil rights.  Many of these invaluable battles have been successful, grounded in the promises set forth in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.  We have had victories too numerous to mention.  We have hit a wall.  Thus in St. Petersburg, Florida, the city ran roughshod over the rights of the homeless.  They were sued.  The homeless won.  The homeless still live in misery.

A typical victory says:

“No person’s rights, privileges, or access to public services may be denied or abridged solely because he or she is homeless. Such a person shall be granted the same rights and privileges as any other resident of this state.”

… for the rich as well as the poor …

A step forward.  Yet the City of St. Petersburg has 10 ordinances on the books specifically directed at keeping the homeless out of sight and out of mind.  They are carefully crafted under the principal of granting “the same rights and privileges as any other resident of this state.”  They simply invoke Anatole France’s bitter quote, “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

So the downtown Prohibited  Zone forbids panhandling by bankers and the poor alike.  So a few parks become off-limits to EVERYBODY from 11:00 p.m. until 30 minutes before sunrise the following day.  As for the rest, “All other Parks not delineated in subsection (a)(1) of this section are closed from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise the following day.”

So it goes for page after page of cold-blooded legalese.

Opening a new (or very old) front.

The nasty trick that liberalism has pulled is that their battles are based on the strengths and limitations of the U.S. Constitution, you know, that document that sets out that slaves are three-fifths of a human being.  Yet the very foundation of our country rests on our Declaration of Independence, which states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [sic!] are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights …

Already, the Constitution is a step down.  The Green Party is going forward (or back) to the terrain of human rights which, whatever your attitude to the existence of god (or God), takes precedence over the scribblings of a gathering of aristocratic slaveholders.

Thus we have written the Dignity Ordinances, per the video above, which is only a most modest beginning, but stakes out the claims of the Homeless to their most fundamental human needs, for food, clothing income, and shelter.

In these Trumpian, neo-liberal, neo-con times, we are asserting that these needs are the needs of ALL of us, without compromise or qualification.

— Jeff Roby
March 22, 2017

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