Criminalizing homelessness? Colorado city to punish sitting or lying on sidewalks
Durango City Council unanimously passed the motion on Tuesday, and the ordinance will come into effect this summer. According to the Durango Herald, the rule will forbid people from sitting or lying down on the sidewalk in the city’s downtown area from 7am until 2:30am.
People found in violation of the ordinance can face fines of up $200. The move is seen by some as an effort to try and clean up the downtown area and make it safer for residents. Business owners and councilors in particular were in favor of the motion.
“People can stand with a sign on Main Avenue all day long and they are absolutely within their First Amendment rights,” Councillor Dick White said. “I think this is achieving what we are trying to achieve,” he added.
Critics argued that it was an attack on homeless people and beggars and that it wouldn’t solve the city’s homeless problem.
“I think this is a Band-Aid. I think this ordinance is going to merely cover a wound that is festering in our city,” one local resident reportedly said. Many social media users also slammed the new law.
Very sad for the people of Durango who are working to criminalize homelessness instead of end it https://t.co/FrgmFwzyGS— Micah Snead (@sneadish) May 17, 2018
Extremely poor people should all be ashamed of themselves for sleeping on sidewalks. Granted, sidewalks do look comfy. Thankfully Durango City Council had the Christian love to criminalize extreme poverty. Why don't they get nice houses like decent people?— Colt ✞ (@Colttech) May 17, 2018
I am always proud to be a Durangatan . . . but maybe less so today. These kind of "out of sight, out of mind" policies are clearly aimed at indegncy, and are not the right solution: Durango City Council bans sitting, lying on sidewalks https://t.co/E2qBbguUsf— Conor J. May (@Conor_J_May) May 17, 2018
However, the ordinance does not apply to people in the midst of a medical emergency, people with disabilities, parade and festival-goers, children in strollers and performers at special events.
Residents of the small city, with a population of about 18,500, are still permitted to sit on publicly installed seating areas.
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