Since the dawn of civilization, homeless people have been drawn to metropolitan centers. And history has proven that nothing will change that. Homeless people cannot be driven out of a city, they always find a way back in. Legislative actions are useless for the same reasons. Of course not all homeless people inhabit city centers, or disregard the rule of law. But some do. And those particular homeless people are most often those suffering from mental health issues, and drug addictions, which makes it near impossible to reason with them on any subject of importance.
Homeless people in Nashville, as in every city really, are used to having the run of the place, especially at night, after all the homed people have returned to the suburbs, or high rise lofts. So, for the homeless, Occupy camps are an intrusion into their daily existence. Some of the homeless have it together enough to find a way to peacefully coexist with the protesters, and will perhaps even support and join in with the protests, but some homeless people will not. And those homeless people would wish the Occupy people to go away.
Although most homeless people will not be a problem for the Occupy group, the few who are, will be very annoying and distracting to the cause.
Since the Occupy movement involves people who have never really spent much time downtown, I’m sure few or none of them anticipated having to deal with this issue. It is a tricky one, mostly for the fact that homeless people are citizens who also have rights, and as fellow human beings, deserve a level of respect and equal consideration.
Here are my suggestions for the Nashville Occupy group.
Contact the folks of Open Table and the Amos House Community. They have the experience dealing with, and a genuine concern for, homeless people. Hopefully they can provide information and resources for dealing with the homeless people you encounter.
And, if at all possible, raise funds to pay for a legitimate security company to provide security to the camp. You might even be able to hire an off duty police officer from Metro.
In the mean time, have a few people patrolling your camp, and equip them with flashlights and cell phones so that they can quickly call the metro or capital police when necessary.
Here is an article that I found on this subject at the Nashville Channel 5 website:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Without the fear of arrest, members of Occupy Nashville are once again settling into Legislative Plaza. Now, the group is looking for ways to ensure their safety during its occupation.
“We have females who want to occupy up here and they don’t feel safe when they see a bunch of drunken people running around up here and creating fights, and what not,” explained member Devin Pena.
Monday night, occupiers had an issue with an injured, intoxicated man who came to their camp after his involvement in a fight elsewhere.
“And that’s not fair to us. We have our own issues to deal with right now, and having that on top of everything just brings everybody down,” Pena said.
Pena sent an email to two unions who have voiced their support for Occupy Nashville. He asking the local United Steel Workers and United Auto Workers to help with security.
“To hopefully see if they have any barricades that we can put up around our perimeter, so we can feel a little safer inside our own area,” said. Pena.
He also asked if union members would volunteer to patrol the plaza.
Occupy member Eva Watler did just that during the overnight hours of Tuesday, walking Legislative Plaza with a group the named the “vibes patrol.”
“Keeping the vibes good, you know, keeping things up and happy and focused on what we’re doing,” Watler explained.
She said Occupy Nashville have set up to on the plaza for the long haul.
“Occupy means occupy your home, this is our home,” Watler said.
Now the group is determined to makes sure their make-shift home is secure as the wait until their message is heard, and understood.
The temporary restraining order issued Monday in federal court allows Occupy Nashville to stay on Legislative Plaza until November 21, 2011, without the fear of arrest.