NYC Homeless, Advocates, PROTEST NYPD Arrest Policy FWD

Tom Boland (
Sun, 5 Dec 1999 21:42:01 -0800 (PST)

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FWD  Reuters - 6.20 p.m. ET (2332 GMT) December 5, 1999


NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- Chanting "Housing Not Hate,'' homeless
people and their advocates Sunday began the first of two rallies
and all-night vigils planned to protest a crackdown by New York
City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

The arrests of hundreds of homeless since Nov. 20 is already
an issue in Republican Giuliani's probable Senate campaign
against his likely Democratic opponent, first lady Hillary
Rodham Clinton, who attacked his new policy in a speech last

Giuliani ordered arrests of the homeless after a Texas woman
was hit over the head with a brick in broad daylight in midtown
Manhattan Nov. 16, suffering severe injuries. Since then,
police, who described the man charged with the attack as a
career criminal who was also homeless, have arrested 164 street
people on various charges and taken 380 to city-run shelters.

Giuliani, a former U.S. Attorney who has made crime fighting
his major theme as mayor, says the arrests have made New York
safer, but political opponents and advocates for the homeless
say his policy unfairly targets needy people, mostly women and

"The effect has already been very chilling,'' Mary
Brosnahan, director of the Coalition for the Homeless advocacy
group, said in an interview at Sunday's rally in Union Square.
''We've been out talking to people and now they are saying 'I'm
going to go it alone' so the net effect is to drive very poor
people further into hiding instead of having them come and get
the services they need.''

The rally also marked the 20th anniversary of a New York
State Supreme Court ruling that the homeless had the legal right
to shelter under the state constitution. In October, the
Giuliani administration said it would enforce work and other
welfare rules as a condition for shelter.

Giuliani's aides said moving people off the streets and
arresting those who refuse city-provided shelter was
compassionate. They said no city in the United States spends
more on the homeless  $430 million in 1999, an increase of $38
million from last year.

"Housing Not Hate,'' Brosnahan chanted, leading a crowd of
about 1,000 homeless families and advocates, many carrying
handwritten placards saying such things as "We are homeless,
not hopeless and not criminals.''

According to the Coalition for the Homeless 23,000 people,
including 9,000 children, slept in city shelters each night in

A poll published by the New York Daily News Sunday showed
New Yorkers oppose Giuliani's homeless policies by a 2-to-1
margin and 77 percent favor Clinton's proposals to spend more
money on treatment of the mentally ill and for low-income

The mayor's political opponents, including former mayor
David Dinkins and activist Rev. Al Sharpton, lined up at
Sunday's rally to denounce the new policy. About 100 people
planned to spend the night in Union Square, the first of two
planned all-night vigils.

Sharpton, who earlier this year galvanized public opinion
and led a highly visible civil disobedience campaign against
allegations of police brutality, also planned a vigil for Monday
night in City Hall Park.


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