A controversial ordinance passed in Pensacola, Florida over the summer is currently making life a lot harder for those who do not have a home of their own in which to sleep. The “camping” ordinance presents homeless people with a difficult choice: obey the law or freeze to death.
The ordinance prohibits sleeping in public underneath blankets or newspaper or inside a shelter one constructs in order to find relief from the oppressive cold.
Noting how this ordinance has negatively impacted the homeless population of the city, especially in the wake of the polar vortex that paralyzed much of the nation. Last month, locals asked city council to consider a repeal of the parts of the ordinance that cause undue hardship for those living rough.
As Opposing Views reports, Jeremy Bosso was among those who stood up for the city’s homeless population:
[box type=”shadow”]“Good evening, City Council,” said Bosso in his appeal. “I just wanted to bring to your attention, WEAR ABC News posted a sort of public service announcement, if you will, just reminding people with this cute little meme on their Facebook page. It’s a cute little dog, and it says, ‘If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them. Please bring your pets inside. Please share to get out this message.’ I would just like to say that I fully agree with this, that if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pets. But I would also like to ask that the City Council extend that same courtesy to our fellow human beings. The temperatures have reached the teens recently. It’s expected to be a hard freeze tonight. And because of that, I’d like to ask the Council to respectfully reconsider the “camping” ordinance that I believe several other people have mentioned, that does prohibit sleeping with a blanket, a sleeping bag. I think we should extend that courtesy to our fellow humans. I mean, we do it for the animals, and I think we should respect life at all stages.”[/box]
The ordinance has been highly criticized in the past. In May, councilwoman Sherri Myers said of the camping ordinance, “They could be peacefully sitting there, peacefully standing. Under this ordinance they would be guilty of ‘aggressive’ panhandling. It says it right here in this ordinance. I believe that is a violation of the United States Constitution, the right to assemble, the right of freedom of association. I don’t believe that section of this ordinance is going to withstand Constitutional scrutiny.”
At this point, it’s uncertain if the powers-that-be will act to defend the homeless against the intolerable conditions they have helped create, but as it stands Pensacola’s homeless face a difficult choice every day: freeze to death or go to jail.