Monday, August 30, 2010

More Reasons to Support the ACLU

Homelessness Discussion Available On-Line

Earlier this year, we promoted an event at the American Civil Liberties Union on homelessness. I was privileged to be invited to speak to a surprising large crowd for the middle of the day about homelessness and the 20 years of legal work that we have undertaken to protect the rights of homeless people. It was another good event by one of the premier civil rights groups in the United States. Because of the work of Chris Link, Ray Vasvari, Kevin O'Neill, Gary Daniels, Joan Englund, Gino Scarselli, James Levin, Jason Jaffery, and Carrie Davis (no relation), the ACLU has always been a tremendous partner to protect the rights of very low income and homeless people in Cleveland and Ohio. They have posted the video from the talk on their website here.

There were a number of very good questions from the crowd, and I talked about the long history of working to protect the civil rights of homeless people. Because of NEOCH and the ACLU working together, things are better for homeless people compared to other areas of the country. For example, Cleveland is one of the few communities in the United States with a signed agreement between the police/city and the Coalition that prevents the police from arresting or threatening arrest for purely innocent behavior of sitting, sleeping or standing on the sidewalk. This reduces the number of homeless people who end up in jail for being poor, and reduces conflict between homeless people and city officials. If you want more information go watch the video. Also, make sure you support the ACLU because some group in our community should have the job of protecting and preserving the Bill of Rights and not just paying lip service to "protecting the Constitution."

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