North Carolina and South Carolina are experiencing an economic boom but fears that the homeless will drive away business are resulting in some heartless policies:
From Raleigh, North Carolina ABC News:
…when volunteers went down to their usual weekend spot to dole out the 100 sausage biscuits and the gallons of coffee they had brought to feed the crowds who had gathered Saturday morning, they were also greeted by officers with the Raleigh Police Department, according to a statement on the church group’s website.
“An officer said, quite bluntly, that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested,” the Rev. Hugh Hollowell wrote on the group’s website. “We asked the officers for permission to disperse the biscuits to the over 70 people who had lined up, waiting to eat. They said no. I had to face those who were waiting and tell them that I could not feed them, or I would be arrested.”
The Raleigh police were there to enforce a city ordinance that bans the distribution of food in any of the city’s parks, ABC Raleigh, N.C., station WTVD-TV reported.
But later in the day Sunday, there was this development:
The Raleigh police stood down after Mayor Nancy McFarlane and numerous Council members intervened today with Police Chief Deck-Brown and Acting City Manager Perry James. Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin is pulling this issue into her Law & Public Safety Committee meeting — the Council majority must vote to put it there, which they will do by phone; but 48 hours notice of the “meeting” must be given first, and I think the rule is 48 hours more before the committee can meet. Until the committee has a chance to gather information, Chief Deck-Brown and the city administration have agreed to let the various groups continue to distribute food without being hassled or threatened with arrest, McFarlane said.
From The New York Times:
With business owners sounding increasingly worried about the threat they believe the homeless pose to Columbia’s economic surge, the City Council approved a plan this month that will essentially evict them from downtown streets.
The unanimous vote epitomized how Columbia’s dueling realities — a rush of self-confidence among political and business leaders and continuing poverty for others — have become driving forces of public policy.
City officials have clashed about what precisely the Council approved during a marathon meeting, but Mr. Runyan said the intent of his strategy was to increase enforcement of existing vagrancy laws and offer the homeless three options: accept help at a shelter, go to jail or leave Columbia.
The Rt. Rev Michael Curry, bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina (central NC) writes:
… the Mayor announced that no one would be arrested for feeding the homeless in Moore Square and that the city would work with those doing so. Further she said that neither she nor the City Council were aware of this until yesterday. As a side note many of our clergy and congregations are supporters of Love Wins Ministries and we were making phone calls yesterday about this. Additionally, we were working to make our Diocesan House parking lot available for this minustry, which is also downtown, near Moore Square, if that proved necessary or desirable. It appears that for the moment the matter has been resolved and the city is working with the ministry.