Monday, July 23, 2007

Curfew on Public Square?

Battle for Public Square

Things have been exceedingly busy and time consuming here at the coalition, but I wanted to take a moment to address a statement since I haven't posted to this blog in so long:

As some of you may or may not be aware of, the City has proposed a curfew on Public Square. This curfew would make it illegal to be on Public Square between 10 PM and 6 AM (except for ordinary foot traffic). According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Councilman Joe Cimperman, who represents downtown, said the law is intended to improve safety by banning homeless people from sleeping on the square."

As much as I want to discuss the inherent safety hazard an unconscious person (homeless or otherwise) poses to the public, first I would much rather discuss a direct quote from the Leader of Downtown as reported by Channel 5: "'What we realized was that when people were hanging out all night, harassing people, panhandling people, scaring young men and women, you know making people feel uncomfortable that they were actually allowed to stay there all night because we didn't have anything on the books,' said City Councilman Joe Cimperman."

I did a little bit of research and found that you do have codes on the books to address specifically what you are referencing:
  • "hanging out all night" - 605.09 Unlawful Congregation
  • "harassing people" - 605.03 Disorderly Conduct and 605.09 Unlawful Congregation or - 605.10 Unnecessary Noise or - 621.06 Aggravated Menacing 621.07 Menacing
  • "panhandling people"- 605.031 Aggressive Solicitation
  • "scaring young men and women" - 605.03 Disorderly Conduct or - 605.06 Inducing Panic or - 621.06 Aggravated Menacing or - 621.07 Menacing
  • "you know making people feel uncomfortable" - 605.03 Disorderly Conduct
If violations like those above are occurring and nothing is being done, your problem is with the enforcement of the law and not with the lack of a proper law. I understand why this curfew law was proposed, but frankly, everything it is attempting to combat is already made illegal in the Cleveland City Code.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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