Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Columbia, South Carolina Wants To ‘Exile The Homeless’

I’ve told this story before on this bloggy thing, but I’m reminded of it once again in light of this disgusting story out of Columbia, South Carolina.

When we first moved to Smallville seven years ago, we met some very nice people; we also met some of those religious types who smiled at the gay couple but then rarely spoke to us—thankfully those folks are in the minority.

I remember being asked by several people the usual questions when you meet someone: Where are you from? But I was ill-prepared for the ones that asked: Where do you worship?

Sarcastic me almost said, Satan? But then I realized they were serious. I explained my religious or spiritual beliefs and that I didn’t need to be a part of an organized religion to, for lack of better phrasing, ‘talk to God.’ I said I could talk to God, or Goddess, or whatever, anywhere and everywhere and any time.

And people would say that the church provides a way to help your neighbors in times of need, and help those less fortunate, to which I also replied that I didn’t need a church membership to do that. If you wanna help, and you can, you help; but then think about this story, about the less fortunate, and how the city of Columbia is “helping.”

See, last August, the city of Columbia approved a new plan to give its homeless population a choice: they could either leave the downtown area or be arrested, because, you know, the good people of Columbia don’t wanna see all them homeless people around. It makes them feel uncomfortable.

But, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Columbia has decided to go further. This month the city began to strictly enforce an old and rarely-used ordinance that would require groups of 25 or more to obtain a special permit and pay a hefty fee before congregating in a public park.
You know, where the homeless gather because they’re, you know, homeless.

One charity organization, Food Not Bombs, has already been impacted by the new laws. While they have been serving food to the homeless community in Columbia’s Finlay Park every Sunday for 12 years, they are now subjected to a payment of $120 each week to continue doing so.

Think of how many people they can feed on $120. Also know that Food Not Bombs organizes the meals, serves the meals, and fully cleans up the area where the meals are served, a tall order for a group that’s not even an official 501(c)(3) organization but just serves out of the goodness of its heart.

The goodness of its heart.

But it seems that Columbia’s newly enforced antiquated law was re-enacted just to stop groups like Food Not Bombs from serving the homeless. Since the Columbia City Council approved its exile plan in August, the city has been trying to herd its homeless people to a shelter on the outskirts of town and keep them away from downtown, and if charities continue to provide food in downtown parks, the thinking goes, it will allow homeless people to continue to live downtown, rather than being forced to leave.

Well, if that’s the idea, why not round up all the homeless folks and put ‘em in a camp. Maybe we can give them cool uniforms and tattooed ID numbers and then weed out the ones who seem especially weak or feeble or sick.

I mean, that’s kind of the next step. Right Columbia?


Ron said...

For an area (the South) that is known for its hospitality sometimes the South can be so cruel and heartless. I wonder what they talk about in church

the dogs' mother said...

Jesus must be tearing his hair out.

Facing Traffic said...

This reminds me of the recent story about a new pastor of a huge (10,000 attending services on Sunday) church and before he was introduced to his congregation, he dressed up as a homeless man and walked into service and nobody welcomed him, in fact, they pushed him to the back of the church before eventually pushing him out of the church altogether. He then got up on stage and was introduced as the new pastor and then shamed the congregation for their unchristianly behavior. Disgusting, how people are.

Helen Lashbrook said...

How can these people look themselves in the mirror knowing that they are hurting the poorest and the weakest in society?

anne marie in philly said...

chirstian values? not in columbia! :(