Dozens of homeless New Yorkers and advocates rallied on the steps of city hall this afternoon to single out and condemn the NY Post’s recurring portrayal of the homeless as dehumanized, quality-of-life case studies, as well as the Sergeants Benevolent Association’s recent public solicitation of photographs of homeless people engaging in “quality-of-life offenses of every type.”
“We’re here today because we’re disgusted by the treatment of homeless people in our city,” said Alyssa Aguilera, the Political Director for Vocal New York. “We’re tired of the criminalization and stigmatization of homeless people who are struggling, and need housing, and who need social services. Instead they are being targeted by the police.”
According to the SBA, civilian documentation of the homeless is a valid response to those who exercise their right to surveil the NYPD. From their press release: “We, the ‘Good Guys,’ are sworn to protect our citizens. Shouldn’t our public officials be held to the same standard?” Granted, this argument assumes that all homeless people are criminals “lying in our streets… engaging in open-air drug activity, and quality-of-life offenses of every type.”
“This is some bullshit,” said Jose Lopez of Make The Road New York. “If we’re talking about solutions for our city, the solution cannot be to take a photo of a homeless New Yorker, who might just be on the street because he got pushed out by his slum landlord who refused to make repairs and decided to raise the rent.”
“We need to name the problem, and the problem is our system,” echoed Jesus Gonzalez of Churches United for Fair Housing. “We live in a for-profit system where some people are going to be able to afford housing, and most won’t. Shame on the system! Shame!”
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