Megan Smith - House of Hope Barbara Freitas - Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project
In November, Providence College students conducted a public spaces survey of random pedestrians in the Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park areas of downtown Providence. The results were striking. Just over half (52%) of those surveyed were homeless or formerly homeless, but 95% of the citations and 94% of the arrests were experienced by homeless and formerly homeless persons. Answers to other questions on the survey such as whether law enforcement had asked them to “move on” or to leave a particular area, how often they were asked for identification; and how often law enforcement searched their belongings without their permission show the same pattern of disproportionate harassment of homeless and formerly homeless persons by police. Other potential reasons for such targeting such as race, ethnicity, or age were not found to be relevant. .... “It was stunning to see the degree to which homeless Rhode Islanders are subject to harassment by the Providence Police Department,” stated Dr. Eric Hirsch, Professor of Sociology and author of the Public Spaces Survey. “It was the only factor relevant to why someone was ticketed or arrested for everyday activities such as sitting, lying down, etc.” - Joint Press Release RIHAP & Rhode Island Coalition For The Homeless 1/26/16
Homeless Advocates Megan Smith & Barbara Freitas joined the Coalition to discuss the both dispel the urban myths and the underlying politics of the "State of The Homeless" in Rhode Island circa 2016. The passage of the "Homeless Bill of Rights" represented landmark legislation in 2012 ... Just what has happened since is the cause for disappointment, and yes, Outrage ...
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