Sit-lie a cliche of obstructionism

sit-lie2The new ruling that the sit-lie law is unconstitutional caught Street Roots off guard. According to sources at City Hall, it also caught the city on its heels.

Rumor has it that staffers there are scrambling to try to figure out what exactly the ruling means.

Street Roots thinks it’s clear to the broader public what the ruling means and what City Hall should do. For years, seven to be exact, the sit-lie ordinance has become a wedge issue in our community. Not to mention that the law infringes on the rights of Portlanders, specifically homeless folks.

The sit-lie ordinance is being evaluated in community-wide discussions led by City Commissioners Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz to determine the long-term viability of the law. We have a hunch that the process will not shed any new light on the subject.

This law is more or less a waste of everyone’s time.

It’s time to cut bait. Stop beating a dead horse. The police bureau, private security groups and the business community need to learn to live without the sit-lie ordinance.

The simple fact of the matter is, we have individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty that live and contribute in our community. We may not always like the way a few bad apples create tension on the streets, but it’s time to turn over a new leaf and look at more progressive and innovative ideas when thinking about these issues.

The Street Access For Everyone (SAFE) workgroup, made up of members from the business community, homeless advocates and concerned citizens, has created a framework on which to work together. We don’t think this should be lost.

Street Roots recently joined the Portland Business Alliance (PBA) in the same vein. We believe that while we don’t always agree on specific issues, the PBA and the larger business community do care about people experiencing homelessness. And we have to find a way to breakthrough the tired rhetoric. Here’s our chance.

In the past two years, the city and the PBA have supported the SAFE committee to help build more park benches and to open public restrooms downtown — things that benefit both the housed and homeless communities. They have worked to create day access space for people on the streets to have a welcoming place to go and have created the capacity for a homeless women’s shelter to increase its hours to 24/7. The shame of the sit-lie law only tarnished these worthy efforts.

What if the discussion could move on to what homeless folks can do alongside the business community? How can we be involved in cleaning blighted areas or helping police drug dealers and predators that prey on people on the streets? We can develop a relationship in the spirit of collaboration instead of confrontation, and share the concept that the people on the streets are a part of the solutions we all seek.

None of this is possible with an ordinance that tells people not be a part of the community at-large. It’s time to move along.

Read the latest news and the seven year history of the ordinance.

One response to “Sit-lie a cliche of obstructionism

  1. Pingback: Discuss sit-lie at Street Roots blog… « For those who can’t afford free speech

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