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Stop drumming up fear of the homeless

By Ellen Cohen

The Davis “stakeholders group” is at it again. For the second time in less than two weeks, the “No Handouts for the Homeless” campaign made the front page of The Enterprise.

This particular article features a large man wearing soiled clothing lying on the sidewalk in front of Bizarro World on E Street holding a sign that asks for food or marijuana. It is interesting that The Enterprise chose to photograph and interview someone who visibly stood out and who is “in town for a few days” as opposed to one of the homeless who has lived here peacefully and unobtrusively for months or years.

Is it by design, because “Ray” lying down where he couldn’t be missed, and holding a sign requesting marijuana, might make people nervous? Nervous enough to support the stakeholders’ goals? This group openly states that its primary goal in response to “increased visibility of individuals who are homeless or appear to be homeless” is to get people to “give to programs rather than to individuals.”

The crackdown on the homeless in many cities in Northern California has intensified in the past year. Chico, another college town not far from Davis, has a newly formed union of downtown businesses and other local representatives (read “stakeholders group”) that it named “R-Town Downtown Coalition” whose purpose is to commission a private security force to remove the homeless from downtown sidewalks and storefronts.

Is this what’s next in Davis? Is this what they deserve? Are those living on our streets an actual threat to us, or do they just make us feel uncomfortable?

Stop drumming up fear, stakeholders. How ironic that some of you are from “faith-based organizations.”

— Ellen Cohen is a Davis resident.

Special to The Enterprise

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