Recently, we have following laws targeting homeless persons — laws that could apply to a wide range of conduct but enforced only against this one group. San Francisco has now joined this group with a law barring people from sitting or lying on public sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. This is why the two men on the San Francisco seal are shown standing. There were three but one made the mistake of sitting down.
Obviously, many people sit or lie on public sidewalks, but officials insist that police will only enforce the law against the homeless — a problematic claim allowing arbitrary enforcement.
Mayor Gavin Newsom and Police Chief George Gascon pushed for the law over the objections of civil libertarians. We have also recently seen other normally liberal city councils rejecting civil libertarian objections to pass laws curtailing free speech.
I was just in Haight-Ashbury last month and I can only imagine how the police will enforce this law. It is a dangerous practice to give police the power to pick and choose between citizens to arrest for common conduct.
Yet, that appears precisely what residents want. Kathleen Shanahan explains “There’s a difference between an individual that’s contributing to the society and being part of the cultural fabric of a neighborhood, versus an individual that is sitting on the street with their very scary dog, to the point that I am scared to walk down the Haight with my family.” Note to self, leave scary dog at home next time in San Fran. You should also leave your Happy Meal in the car.
Source: Bay Citizen