street newspaper war on loitering law [your stand?] FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 8 Nov 1998 06:48:01 -0400


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S VIEWS, NEWS & ALERTS: 3,000+ Archived posts since 11-97
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Should street newspapers take a stand on panhandling and anti-panhandling
laws?  If so, what stand?  Do you view paper venders and panhandlers as
allies?  As competetors?  Why?  -- Tom Boland, Homeless People's Network
__________

FWD  http://www.denverpost.com/news/news1105b.htm

ACTIVIST PLANS NEWSPAPER WAR ON LOITERING LAW

                       By Cindy Brovsky
                       Denver Post Staff Writer

Nov. 5, 1998 - AURORA - A Denver advocate for the homeless vows to arm
loiterers with a community newspaper to thwart the city's attempt to keep
aggressive beggars off East Colfax Avenue.

Jeff Chase, a reporter with Denver Voice, a newspaper written by and for
the homeless, said Aurora's proposed anti-loitering law "spits in the face
of the First Amendment.''

"This is an attempt by the Aurora City Council to pass an unnecessary law
that is aimed at the poor and homeless, '' Chase said.

Chase and eight homeless people, most of whom live in Denver, were the only
ones to speak against the proposed anti-loitering and aggressive begging
law when the council gave it initial approval last month.

Chase vows to return to the council meeting Nov. 16 to ask it to
reconsider. If not, he'll hand out the Denver Voice to people loitering on
the Colfax plazas. The loiterers would sell the newspaper in exchange for a
donation they could keep, which would stop police from citing them for
loitering.

Chase's plan hasn't changed the council's support for the law, but a few
did applaud him. Other cities, including Chicago, San Francisco and San
Diego, have homeless people sell newspapers to avoid loitering laws.

"Touche' for the homeless,'' said Councilman Bob LeGare, who voted in favor
of the new law. "At least someone would be getting something for their $1.''

Council members argue the law is necessary because people begging for money
have discouraged others from shopping along East Colfax.

"We spent a lot of money to revitalize that area and yet we have people
sleeping in the flower planters or clutching whiskey bottles in business
doorways,'' said Councilman John Paroske. "People hesitate to shop there
when there are people lying on the sidewalks.''

The law would make it illegal for anyone to loiter between 7 a.m. and 9
p.m. anywhere along the East Colfax Avenue corridor. Police could stop
people from sitting, kneeling or lying on the sidewalks or streets unless
they are ill. Police also could cite people for "aggressive begging,''
which would include touching, following or using threatening language.

The law was patterned after similar ordinances in Seattle and California,
which have been upheld as constitutional in the courts. If approved, it
would be the most strict anti-loitering law in the Denver metro area.

The Denver Voice newspaper began two years ago and is funded mostly through
grants. Chase isn't homeless but said he's been involved with issues
concerning the poor for several years.

"Everyone can go through tough times,'' Chase, 36, said. "Council members
who are offended by people asking them for money shouldn't be in politics.
Maybe they should go to finishing school where everything is polite and
proper. This is the real world.''

But Dan Lathers, community outreach attorney for Aurora, said all visitors
should feel comfortable and not harassed when shopping along East Colfax.

"My third-grade teacher told us to sit up straight, be polite and keep our
feet out of the aisles,'' Lathers said. "That's what this law is: basic
common courtesy.''

END FORWARD
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