Is it now a crime to be poor in St. Petersburg?
Writer Barbara Ehrenreich poses this question in a New York Times Op-Ed piece. "It’s too bad so many people are falling into poverty at a time when it’s almost illegal to be poor," she writes.
Ehrenreich writes: “If you’re lying on a sidewalk, whether you’re homeless or a millionaire, you’re in violation of the ordinance,” a city attorney in St. Petersburg said in June, echoing Anatole France’s immortal observation that “the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges.”
Allan Greene, a St. Petersburg resident, wrote about the article on It's Your Times, saying the city has passed "some increasingly simply tormenting, irrational, and sadistic laws against poor, homeless, working people here in the St. Petersburg area."
"I can testify that the city government has, indeed, done this."
Ehrenreich concludes by saying "Maybe we can’t afford the measures that would begin to alleviate America’s growing poverty — affordable housing, good schools, reliable public transportation and so forth. I would argue otherwise, but for now I’d be content with a consensus that, if we can’t afford to truly help the poor, neither can we afford to go on tormenting them."
Share your thoughts: Is St. Petersburg's reputation for criminalizing poverty fair?
Photo: John Pendygraft | Times