Friday, July 21, 2006

Against the law to feed the homeless: does that include pigeons?

From the "it's enough to make you violently ill" file, Las Vegas has made it illegal to feed the homeless, unless you're an institution like a church or a soup kitchen. The idea, allegedly, is to encourage the homeless to get off the streets and into institutional care. That actually makes a certain amount of sense to me. But, unless the law is coupled with broad policy to try to improve social sevices in the city such that they can actually serve all the homeless suddenly dumped on their doorsteps, all this does is make it a crime to give a guy on the street a sandwich.

Note also the comment from an ACLU lawyer:
"The ordinance is clearly unconstitutional and nonsensical," he said. "How are you going to know without a financial statement who's poor and who's not poor? It means they can discriminate based on the way people look.” ...
Man has a point. Of course, they could just make it illegal to feed anyone; I hope to see those vile hot dog vendors and hummus salesman in the stocks by nightfall.

Of course, this could just be a distraction from these statistics, which don't show Vegas as a particularly safe place to be. By way of comparison, according to this article, Edmonton, the city in Canada with the highest murder rate, has a rate of less than half of Vegas'. (Worth noting that, according to stats on Edmonton and Vegas, vegas has a population of about two-thirds Edmonton's.)

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