Friday, August 21, 2009

Calgary Police Target Homeless

August 21, 2009
I don't know if the link below will activate when published, if not just copy and paste the url to read the article. Of special interest to me were the comments from the general public. The police can clear up these accusations of unfair practices by simply producing statistics for the last three years. We live in the computer age. Mr the stats, how many misdemeanor tickets have been handed out to persons with residence and how many to persons of "no fixed address".
I would agree that laws should apply equally to everyone regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation, gender or socio-economic status. That is in fact the consensus from the comment section... So Please Mr Ritchie prove that is in fact the case.
Sadly I have seen this campaign of harassment in action. And a bylaw officer told the president of one of the downtown neighbourhood associations that "if they harass the homeless enough 25% of them will disappear". My response was "to where?" They will disappear into remand (approximately 4 days per ticket). For the street people (the stereo-type of homelessness that most civilians are clinging to) their life, for a few days will be easier. Especially if they can dodge the warrants until the cold weather sets in. They will go to remand be warm all day, sleep 23 hrs, eat 3 pretty good meals (compared to the fare in shelters) and have a chance to get detoxed for a couple weeks. I used to tell one of my gay boys, that Liz & Liza would never have lived to see 50 if they didn't clean-up once in a while. So remand is healthy and free... oh that's right not free YOU are paying for it. This is alright for the street people but what about the 50% of homeless who are working poor. Exorbitant fines $285. for trespass (cutting across Fort Calgary grounds)or $150 for loitering (stopping on the sidewalk to light a cigarette). My favourite was for loitering in a park...kind of thought that was what parks were designed for. Someone who is trying to keep working has to use the money they have been able to pull together for rent to pay fines or risks getting yanked off the street, thrown in remand and losing their job all together. How does this help our communities?
Apparently some of the commenters on this article failed to notice the MENTALLY CHALLENGED disciption of the guy who was given $1700 in fine over 2 days. Lets do the math 1700/185(average fine)=9.18 So this guy just happened to commit 9 misdemeanor offences in 2 days in front of police services officers...interesting I don't think I ran into police 4.5 times in any given day when I worked in Calgary at the D.I. How do they just happen to be present to ticket every infraction by this person?
As for the statement that police are only doing what they must to crack (no pun intended) down on crime. I have seen the police on more then one occasion confronting some old guy for public drunkenness on the corner of 5th & 4th while the very Large Somalian drug dealer wandered the flyover unimpeded. Just asking when was the last time you were ticketed for public drunkenness on your way home from the bar? As my daughter said the police have all kinds of time to ticket people for spitting in public (a disgusting habit) but no-one has time to pick-up the guy who stole her car. He is not exactly in hiding. By the way the cops walking past the city hall lrt station did not whip out their ticket books when the guy with the briefcase (50ish business casual) spit off the platform in front of me. But I remain open minded as I said show me the stats".
Also this campaign to clean-up downtown is forcing the homeless out of the core pretty downtown and into the neighbouring communities. The only REAL way to reduce the homeless population permanently is with affordable housing and supportive housing. The most effective way to accomplish that quickly, at the risk of repeating myself; is for governments, corporations, agencies and citizens to put as much land as possible into the hands of Habitat for Humanity.
One commenter said other cities do not have the same problem with homelessness that Calgary does. I have been to a couple of those cities, one has almost no homeless women and children, in that Province those group clean or not are provided with housing subsidies. In another city there are couple of dozen small apartment blocks providing supportive housing for the MENTALLY CHALLENGED, mentally ill (sorry don't know the p.c. for that one) developmentally challenged, brain injured, and physically disabled. Now that is how you get rid of 20% of the homeless permanently.

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