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Criminalizing homelessness? Colorado city to punish sitting or lying on sidewalks

Criminalizing homelessness? Colorado city to punish sitting or lying on sidewalks
A city in Colorado has passed a law banning people from sitting or lying down in the street. Critics have claimed the ordnance represents attack on the homeless.

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.

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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