[Hpn] Homeless advocates fault police

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@gmail.com
Sun, 13 Aug 2006 10:23:24 -0400


Last November 17th - 20th (2005) a group from Vermont attended the
National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy -
NARPA: http://www.narpa.org/ ) conference held in Hartford,
Connecticut. A portion of that group traveled on the Amtrak Vermonter
train both to and from Hartford, which I was a part of as well. When
the train was passing throughout the Springfield area (MA.), one could
clearly see
the various well established encampments of people living homeless
along the railroad tracks, etc. Although I had wanted to take photo's
of them, I was not quick enough and did not get a chance to do so. Yet
at the same time, I also found myself being deeply concerned about how
such photos might get used if I had been able to take some and put
them up online or share them with others via e-mail, especially since
I would not want to aid anyone who could possibly then recognize the
area and either chase those people out, steal or seize their
belongings, destroy their encampments, harass or even beat as well as
potentially murder them, etc. Besides having known what it was like
for many people living homeless out there already anyway, in reading
the below forwarded article, now I know why as well as what it was
that concerned me so much back then about taking photos of those
people living homeless and their encampments I had seen within that
particular area. It certainly is reassuring to me that we are living
in the land of freedom, liberty and opportunity, because I would hate
to envision what it would be like if we were not.

Morgan morganbrown@gmail.com
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier, Vermont, USA
Norsehorse's Home on the Web:
http://morganbrown.googlepages.com

On 8/13/06, William Charles Tinker <wtinker@verizon.net> wrote:
>
>
>
>
> http://www.masslive.com/hampfrank/republican/index.ssf?/base/news-5/11554552188900.xml&coll=1&thispage=3
>
> Homeless advocates fault police
>
> Sunday, August 13, 2006
>
> By PATRICK JOHNSON
> pjohnson@repub.com
>
> SPRINGFIELD - Homeless advocates said that police on Thursday sought to  photograph several homeless people inside a soup kitchen and an overnight  shelter.
>
> Kevin Noonan, executive director of Open Pantry Community Services, said the  police action was "blatantly illegal, hostile and unfriendly."
>
> 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.
>
>
>
>
>
> "We're not looking for any kind of fight, but this is just beyond what we can  stay quiet about," he said.
>
> 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.
>
> The police chalked it up to a misunderstanding by the staff at each facility.
>
> 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.
>
> "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.
>
> 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.
>
> 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."
>
> Lt. Rupert Daniel of the Street Crime Unit, who was in charge of each detail,  said police never sought to enter either facility.
>
> 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.
>
>
>
>
> He said he spoke with staff at each facility but never asked to be let  inside.
>
> 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.
>
> 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.
>
> 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.
>
> 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.
>
> Daniel said police do not need permission to take a picture in a public  space, but officers usually ask the subject for permission.
>
> Michaelann Bewsee, of Arise for Social Justice, said the incidents  demonstrate police efforts in recent months to harass and target the city's  homeless.
>
> "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."
>
> She said she planned to complain to Mayor Charles V. Ryan and to file a  complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union.
>
> 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.
>
> "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.
>
> 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."
>
> 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.
>
> No one from either the Western Massachusetts or Boston chapters of the  American Civil Liberties Union could be reached for comment.
>
>