736Fwd: SFGate: Sit/lie law won't trip up tourists
- Mar 5, 2010C.W. Nevius doesn't see the potential threat to civil rights that others apparently do. What's with this guy, Nevius? Could he really be so shallow and naive on the consequences of bad legislation such as this "sit/lie" ordinance?So what that those with civil rights and constitutional concerns are spinning this "sit/lie" ordinance idea to the extreme? It is, after all, the extreme that this ordinance can take us to that has people worried. And for good reason.The fact is, we do NOT trust the police to uphold our civil and constitutional rights. How many times, during periods of civil tensions, have the cops already shown us their propensity for violating our rights, especially in civil protests and acts of civil disobedience?If San Franciscans, or any American, for that matter, were so confident that the police would do us NO harm, would we bother to have individual and civil rights codified, protected, and enforced by the government?The fact is, unless we know the definitive limits to a law, it can be abused by arbitrary and capricious application by the police. It happens too much already, so that the burden falls upon the citizen to protect her/himself legally by invocation of the U.S. Constitution. How does that not violate our rights, which are supposed to be guaranteed?Apparently, Nevius could care less about our concerns for our rights. He treats this legislation for the City & County as if it were just a new rule drafted by a high school administrator for a student body. Let's frikkin get serious here. We're talking about a "sit/lie" ordinance that will apply to the entire City and County, to all persons and for all time. Laws theoretically should be but often are not universally and consistently applied. There is just too much chance of uncertainty of justice to the person being cited by the SFPD under this "sit/lie" ordinance. It could be discriminatorily applied to people of color, people with disabilities (mental illness, in particular), elders, the youth, queers, day laborers, street artists, the homeless (who often sell wares on the sidewalks), etc., etc. -- and simply because the complainant and SFPD happen just to not like that demographic.The laws must apply universally and consistently in this town, and the "sit/lie" ordinance is no exception.Note to activists and advocates: As the capitalist economy continues to tank and the social conditions deteriorate due to unemployment, homelessness, failing public education systems, and widening poverty, class tensions become sharper and these, as always, are managed by law enforcement in favor of private property and the wealthy.
Inevitably, as in the past, the growing masses of citizens becoming more impoverished and disadvantaged by the failing economy will necessarily take to the streets to build and demonstrate their political power to the entire public, in order to pressure for legislation in favor of relief for the working class. Already, we can see this occurring in the student sector with March 4th demonstrations on university, college and public school campuses across the nation and particularly in California, where racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and anti-immigrant acts have already triggered heightened tensions between campus authorities and law enforcement on the one hand and students and their communities on the other.This is not a time when we can drop our guard and cast our fate to the SFPD. We activists know what's coming down the pike, and we must stand firm in our readiness to confront it. To do that, we need the protections afforded by the U.S. Constitutuion to safeguard our basic freedoms of due process, assembly, movement, free speech, the press, association, etc.Say NO to the "sit/lie" ordinance and defend our civil liberties against encroachment by the ever-growing police state.Nevius says, " It's unlikely that Gascón, the mayor or the supervisors would stand by and let the policy be abused."Oh, come on! What kind of fools does C.W. Nevius take us for?When the shit hits the fan, 15,000 fired city workers, thousands of Muni riders and operators, and thousands more public school students, teachers, families and the communities and neighborhoods will inevitably unite to march on City Hall to demand relief from our miseries. And for certain, we don't need the "sit/lie" ordinance to serve as yet another tool of repression by the City & County and the SFPD to keep the masses of the people from demonstrating our demands for relief and change to the way business is being done at City Hall!JUSTIN DeCASTRO
Live & Let Live! Love & Let Love!________________
The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:
Thursday, March 4, 2010 (SF Chronicle)
Sit/lie law won't trip up tourists
The sit/lie dialogue is playing out in classic San Francisco fashion.
Basically, the idea is to take any new proposal, spin it out to its most
extreme possible consequence and then say it is a bad idea.
Thus we have Public Defender Jeff Adachi bringing photos of a well-dressed
tourist sitting on her suitcase and a kid holding a skateboard at the
public safety hearing and suggesting that they would be subject to arrest
under the new law.
Adachi and others would have you believe that roving bands of police
squads would prowl the city and wait for a tourist to sit down, so they
could be swooped up and placed in jail.
OK, I'm against that.
Not that it has anything to do with the sit/lie ordinance that is being
proposed, but it does get people stirred up and that's the idea.
Actually, I don't think Adachi went far enough. What about the sea lions
at Fisherman's Wharf. All they do is sit and lie. And they're belligerent,
too. I say lock 'em up.
Mayor Gavin Newsom's proposal would restrict sitting or lying on public
sidewalks anywhere in the city between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. First-time
violators would be warned to move, then could receive a citation with a
$50 to $100 fine. The second violation could result in 10 days in jail or
a fine of $300 to $500, and each violation after that would be subject to
a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.
There are those who see this as a sinister conspiracy devised by the
police to lock up the homeless. But in reality, the effort to stop people
from sitting or lying on the street came out of a grassroots effort in the
Haight, not from the police.
I got onto the story when a homeless man who lives in Golden Gate Park
wrote me an e-mail (he uses a computer in a nearby public library) and
said he and his friends were being intimidated by the "tweakers" who were
bullying people in the neighborhood.
Merchants, like Kent Uyehara at FTC skate shop, said the same thing. Some
of his employees - tattooed skaters, and no shrinking violets - told of
asking squatters to move away from their doorway because they were hurting
"And there's always that one guy," said one of the skate shop guys, "who
says, "F- you! I know my rights man, you can't make me move."
Basically, this comes down to whether you trust the police. The SFPD says
it wants a sit/lie ordinance to use judiciously in cases where sidewalk
squatters are belligerent or intimidating. Police wouldn't rouse the guy
who sits innocently on the corner on Haight Street with the sign that
says, "I need pot now." People expect to see that when they come to the
Haight. Frankly, some of the merchants would probably pay that guy to
stick around, just for the local color. He's not hurting anybody.
Those who insist this is all about a conspiracy to snatch up sleeping
homeless people need to pay a visit to the Transbay Terminal, where a
virtual tent city springs up every night. The police leave them alone
because they are quiet, unobtrusive and the campers have their act
together. I've been there and talked to them. Why would you put them in
New Police Chief George Gascón sees the sit/lie ordinance as a tool to
change the street culture in the city, and the mayor's proposal would
require that he give regular updates to the board on how his policy is
working. It's unlikely that Gascón, the mayor or the supervisors would
stand by and let the policy be abused.
No one will haul tourists to jail because they violated sit/lie. But it
would be nice if some of these streets were safe enough that a tourist
felt comfortable enough to sit for a moment.
C.W. Nevius' column appears Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. E-mail him at
Copyright 2010 SF Chronicle