We see that the Sara Roosevelt Park has suddenly been graced by a police watch tower.
We aren’t sure why. There have been no violent incidents that have been reported in this area. Only Nike running some games and programming.
We are concerned that the effect will be to intimidate the homeless people who have traditionally come to our area in hopes of help. A small number of the homeless men here help out in the Park and there are organizations nearby that serve anyone in need. Parks are the only democratic spaces left in the City where everyone mingles.
This flurry of activity seems a political move in response to the SBA President Ed Mullins encouragement to his membership to post pictures of homeless people on a website. Clearest response:
DeLacy Davis, the head of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice, Reform and Accountability a …20-year veteran of the Orange County, New Jersey, police force, said the SBA was wrong to politicize policing of the homeless…”While the union has a responsibility to advocate for its members’ safety and pay, they shouldn’t “do it on the backs of the homeless or groups in the community that can’t defend themselves,” he said. “It’s just the wrong fight.”To help the homeless, he said, officers need to get to know the people who are on their beat and respond with the reflex of helping, not punishing. This is especially true for the homeless who are mentally ill, he said.” – From Aljazeera America
We are not okay with pushing people to other Boroughs, out of sight. If we have a problem – then our community needs to deal with it.
We need long-term solutions to homelessness for our neighbors and neighborhood- we do not have the right to criminalize poverty or people – for being poor.
We need officers on foot, park staff and outreach workers who can insist that anyone who uses the park be required to treat people and the park with respect.
We need bathrooms open to the public that are staffed and maintained.
We need community policing – foot patrol officers are far more effective – they know the park, the people. They know who is ‘trouble’ and who is just ‘in trouble’. We have officers who know the area and are among the best in the city.
We need more funding for the outreach workers who painstakingly build relationships that might draw people off the streets and into shelters.
We need safe shelters with a well resourced staff to help people find a way back.
We need homes for people to live in.
We need jobs.