Citizens Arrest(ed)

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One of my summer colleagues from Public Counsel Law Center in Los Angeles passed along THIS LINK from a NY Times article on homelessness. Thought it was worth a read.

I especially appreciated the final paragraph:

Maybe we can’t afford the measures that would begin to alleviate America’s growing poverty — affordable housing, good schools, reliable public transportation and so forth. I would argue otherwise, but for now I’d be content with a consensus that, if we can’t afford to truly help the poor, neither can we afford to go on tormenting them.

It was tragic to learn about the criminalization of the poor this summer. It was heartening, however, to be able to spend a day at Homeless Court where outstanding tickets and warrants magically disappeared and gave some people a chance to get their life on track. It will be interesting to see which movement wins out in the end – arresting the poor, or setting them free.

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6 Responses to “Citizens Arrest(ed)”

  1. urbino Says:

    More posts with more details on this would be very welcome, Al.

  2. alsturgeon Says:

    Will do. Thanks!

  3. dejon05 Says:

    I posted this same article moments ago on my social network page. The writer’s point jibes with what I saw this summer.

    Frankly, much of my indignation is borne from conviction. I’m doing what I can to shed my massive ignorance re: poverty and “the poor.”

    This summer I got the chance to work an 8-week stint at Central Dallas Ministries Law Center. The work was mostly family law (not really my bag), but the real teaching points came from observation.

    I started the job with my bleeding heart on my sleeve hoping to learn and help where I could. I did a lot of the former, and woefully little of the latter.

    At the very least I was able to put a face and name to the anonymous segment of society that many call “the poor.”

    This summer “the poor” at times really pissed me off with some of their decisions such as testing positive for cocaine while 8 months pregnant, disclosing that she really didn’t mind if she never saw her son as long as she wouldn’t have to pay child support.

    These were selfish decisions rolled in to complicated situations.

    But this summer “the poor” really made me question what was wrong with me. Like the neighbor who was willing to take in two boys and raise them as her own. The person who voluntarily was giving so much time to ensure her mentally disabled friend was not financially eviscerated by a mix up by a seemingly inept federal government agency.

    These were selfless decisions rolled in to complicated situations.

    I’m still sorting through all I learned this summer, and I certainly had to make some opinion adjustments. But the fact still remains clear. There are forces… sometimes they are easily recognizable and sometimes not so easy… but there are forces that do not afford the lower socioeconomic strata of Dallas Co. the same opportunities the more affluent citizens receive.

    I have no ability to pass blame (b/c some may need to fall on me) … but I know that’s not right.

  4. urbino Says:

    That should be a post, too, Deej. And then you should write more of them.

    Do you still have posting privileges? If not, and you don’t mind, I can promote your comment to a post, and make you an official hippo.

  5. alsturgeon Says:

    Now we’re talking. DeJon and I ought to have a conversation about our summers anyway. Might as well have one here with the added benefits of brilliant comments from the likes of urbino, jazzbumpa, ME, Terry, etc.!

  6. Terry A. Says:

    I used up all my brilliant comments in the Authentic Newspaper Gibberish conversation.

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