[Hpn] Homeless advocates fault police

William Charles Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Sun, 13 Aug 2006 08:38:26 -0400


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Homeless advocates fault police
Sunday, August 13, 2006=20

By PATRICK JOHNSON
pjohnson@repub.com=20
SPRINGFIELD - Homeless advocates said that police on Thursday sought to =
photograph several homeless people inside a soup kitchen and an =
overnight shelter.=20

Kevin Noonan, executive director of Open Pantry Community Services, said =
the police action was "blatantly illegal, hostile and unfriendly."=20

Open Pantry oversees Loaves and Fishes, a soup kitchen on Chestnut =
Street, and the Warming Place, a cot shelter on West Columbus Avenue, =
where the incidents happened.=20

     =20
"We're not looking for any kind of fight, but this is just beyond what =
we can stay quiet about," he said.=20

Police officials, including a lieutenant with the Street Crime Unit who =
was in charge of the detail, acknowledged police were there but denied =
officers ever sought to enter either facility or violate anyone's =
rights.=20

The police chalked it up to a misunderstanding by the staff at each =
facility.=20

Noonan said he was not there but was told by staff at each location that =
police showed up and wanted permission to come inside to photograph =
people. Staff turned them down, because the police did not have a =
warrant, he said.=20

"We very bothered by this. If they do this to people they perceive as =
having no rights, who do they go after next?" he said.=20

James Laster, director of the Warming Place, said a total of six =
cruisers showed up, and officers asked him for data on the number of =
residents and for permission to take pictures.=20

Laster said he provided the numbers but would not allow any photographs.

"I knew they didn't have a right to take pictures of our guests," he =
said. "You just can't take pictures of people. It's a violation of their =
rights."=20

Lt. Rupert Daniel of the Street Crime Unit, who was in charge of each =
detail, said police never sought to enter either facility.=20

He said officers went to the public park outside Loaves and Fishes for =
complaints about homeless in the park creating a disturbance, and later =
to the Warming Place to check on reports of homeless people camping in =
the woods near the riverfront.=20



He said he spoke with staff at each facility but never asked to be let =
inside.=20

Daniel said police did take photographs of some homeless people outside =
Loaves and Fishes, which he said officers routinely do to add to the =
department's database.=20

He said that police for the last few years have gathered photos of =
street people, which are used for identification in cases where a =
homeless person is found dead or injured, or is involved in crime.=20

One of the photos taken Thursday evening was used to identify the body =
of a man found dead hours later, he said. The death is under =
investigation and is not considered foul play, he said.=20

Lt. C. Lee Bennett said officers routinely photograph people they =
encounter. "These are the people we're dealing with on a regular basis," =
she said.=20

Daniel said police do not need permission to take a picture in a public =
space, but officers usually ask the subject for permission.=20

Michaelann Bewsee, of Arise for Social Justice, said the incidents =
demonstrate police efforts in recent months to harass and target the =
city's homeless.=20

"I can't imagine what the justification is. I think this is outrageous," =
Bewsee said. "I can't think of any group of citizens that would tolerate =
this."=20

She said she planned to complain to Mayor Charles V. Ryan and to file a =
complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union.=20

Maria Foscarinis, executive director for the Washington D.C.-based =
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, said such reports like =
from Springfield are part of a nationwide trend where communities are =
treating homelessness as an issue for law enforcement.



The center calls it "the criminalization of homelessness" Foscarinis =
said.=20

"It's a disturbing trend, an unconstitutional trend, and the overall =
assumption is people who are homeless don't have the same rights as =
anyone else," she said.=20

If the accounts of police seeking entry into the two facilities is =
accurate, she said, then "it was an outrageous request, a very =
inappropriate request to make."=20

The Fourth Amendment, protecting against improper police searches, =
applies equally to everyone, regardless of whether the person lives on =
the street or in a mansion, she said.=20

No one from either the Western Massachusetts or Boston chapters of the =
American Civil Liberties Union could be reached for comment.=20



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<H1 class=3Dred>&nbsp;</H1>
<H1 class=3Dred>Homeless advocates fault police</H1>
<DIV class=3Dsubhead><B></B></DIV>
<DIV class=3Dbyln>Sunday, August 13, 2006 </DIV>
<DIV class=3Dbyln>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV class=3Dbyln>By PATRICK JOHNSON</DIV>
<DIV class=3Dbyln><B>pjohnson@repub.com</B> </DIV>
<P>SPRINGFIELD - Homeless advocates said that police on Thursday sought =
to=20
photograph several homeless people inside a soup kitchen and an =
overnight=20
shelter. </P>
<P>Kevin Noonan, executive director of Open Pantry Community Services, =
said the=20
police action was "blatantly illegal, hostile and unfriendly." </P>
<P>Open Pantry oversees Loaves and Fishes, a soup kitchen on Chestnut =
Street,=20
and the Warming Place, a cot shelter on West Columbus Avenue, where the=20
incidents happened. </P>
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<P>"We're not looking for any kind of fight, but this is just beyond =
what we can=20
stay quiet about," he said. </P>
<P>Police officials, including a lieutenant with the Street Crime Unit =
who was=20
in charge of the detail, acknowledged police were there but denied =
officers ever=20
sought to enter either facility or violate anyone's rights. </P>
<P>The police chalked it up to a misunderstanding by the staff at each =
facility.=20
</P>
<P>Noonan said he was not there but was told by staff at each location =
that=20
police showed up and wanted permission to come inside to photograph =
people.=20
Staff turned them down, because the police did not have a warrant, he =
said. </P>
<P>"We very bothered by this. If they do this to people they perceive as =
having=20
no rights, who do they go after next?" he said. </P>
<P>James Laster, director of the Warming Place, said a total of six =
cruisers=20
showed up, and officers asked him for data on the number of residents =
and for=20
permission to take pictures. </P>
<P>Laster said he provided the numbers but would not allow any =
photographs.</P>
<P>"I knew they didn't have a right to take pictures of our guests," he =
said.=20
"You just can't take pictures of people. It's a violation of their =
rights." </P>
<P>Lt. Rupert Daniel of the Street Crime Unit, who was in charge of each =
detail,=20
said police never sought to enter either facility. </P>
<P>He said officers went to the public park outside Loaves and Fishes =
for=20
complaints about homeless in the park creating a disturbance, and later =
to the=20
Warming Place to check on reports of homeless people camping in the =
woods near=20
the riverfront. </P>
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<P>He said he spoke with staff at each facility but never asked to be =
let=20
inside. </P>
<P>Daniel said police did take photographs of some homeless people =
outside=20
Loaves and Fishes, which he said officers routinely do to add to the=20
department's database. </P>
<P>He said that police for the last few years have gathered photos of =
street=20
people, which are used for identification in cases where a homeless =
person is=20
found dead or injured, or is involved in crime. </P>
<P>One of the photos taken Thursday evening was used to identify the =
body of a=20
man found dead hours later, he said. The death is under investigation =
and is not=20
considered foul play, he said. </P>
<P>Lt. C. Lee Bennett said officers routinely photograph people they =
encounter.=20
"These are the people we're dealing with on a regular basis," she said. =
</P>
<P>Daniel said police do not need permission to take a picture in a =
public=20
space, but officers usually ask the subject for permission. </P>
<P>Michaelann Bewsee, of Arise for Social Justice, said the incidents=20
demonstrate police efforts in recent months to harass and target the =
city's=20
homeless. </P>
<P>"I can't imagine what the justification is. I think this is =
outrageous,"=20
Bewsee said. "I can't think of any group of citizens that would tolerate =
this."=20
</P>
<P>She said she planned to complain to Mayor Charles V. Ryan and to file =
a=20
complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union. </P>
<P>Maria Foscarinis, executive director for the Washington D.C.-based =
National=20
Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, said such reports like from =
Springfield=20
are part of a nationwide trend where communities are treating =
homelessness as an=20
issue for law enforcement.</P>
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<P>The center calls it "the criminalization of homelessness" Foscarinis =
said.=20
</P>
<P>"It's a disturbing trend, an unconstitutional trend, and the overall=20
assumption is people who are homeless don't have the same rights as =
anyone=20
else," she said. </P>
<P>If the accounts of police seeking entry into the two facilities is =
accurate,=20
she said, then "it was an outrageous request, a very inappropriate =
request to=20
make." </P>
<P>The Fourth Amendment, protecting against improper police searches, =
applies=20
equally to everyone, regardless of whether the person lives on the =
street or in=20
a mansion, she said. </P>
<P>No one from either the Western Massachusetts or Boston chapters of =
the=20
American Civil Liberties Union could be reached for comment.=20
</P></DIV>

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