|Pitch a tent and now get|
The decision for the camping criminalization ordinance came when a subcommittee of the City Council allowed members of the Modesto Police Department to write up and create the ordinance. But the criminalization of camping is not just aimed at stamping out the homeless. According to the Modesto Bee:
City officials said the camping ordinance will give police a tool to deal with makeshift camps that increasingly are appearing in Modesto. It also will give police the authority to break up any camps tied to the Occupy movement and prohibit residential property owners from charging rent to campers.
Under the ordinance, anyone who stores personal property, including camping paraphernalia, on public or private property without consent of the owner can be cited on a misdemeanor. Those convicted could be sentenced to jail and probation.Council members claim that the push for the ordinance came after businesses began complaining of homeless people living in the back of parking lots along McHenry Ave. as well as from people who have complained that they "can't walk their dogs" along the canal on Briggsmore Ave., due to homeless encampments.
|'You are too poor to use the park!'|
There is also the looming question of where homeless people will go? The answer from the police, the City Council, and the business interests is quite clear: either into institutions, or hopefully out of Modesto for good. In a recent expose, the Modesto Bee discussed how the local jail is filling up with homeless people who are incarcerated because it is the only place where they can receive medical treatment and also because it is the only place where they can be 'treated' for mental illness. With homelessness on the rise in the local area, compounded and made worse by the economy, increased evictions, and the foreclosure crisis, as well as continued repression of the homeless community, we will only see an increase in the amount of homeless people incarcerated, locked up, and thrown in mental facilities simply for the crime of not having a place to live.
|Students at MJC camped out as part|
of 'Occupy MJC' to protest rising fees.
Now, they could face jail time for such
According to City Councilman Dave Geer, police will use their "discretion," and only target "problem" camps and will not use the law to "harass" the homeless. But of course, this is the same police department that shoots people claiming they have guns which turn out to be spatulas. These are the same police that shoot out a deaf man's back windows' because he's too busy screaming "I'm deaf," to respond to their commands.
|Marsh: "If you're poor, you're screwed!"|
The City Council is made up largely business owners and property developers types who stand to gain from the removal of the poor in the downtown and the coming in of new capital investments. In a recent forum hosted by Marsh, which featured annoying bourgie local muckie muck Chris Richie (X-Fest, etc), Pete Janopaul (who plans to turn the former downtown post office into upscale lofts), developer John Giver, as well as a presentation by developer supa-star Joe Minicozzi, who works with a "for profit real-estate company." Joe argues that city governments can increase their revenue by concentrating urban development in their cores with mixed zoning: having lofts and upscale apartments next to fine dining and nice hair saloons. From Minicozzi's presentation:
Per-acre, our downtowns have the potential to generate so much more public wealth than low-density subdivisions or massive malls by the highway. And for all that revenue they bring in, downtowns cost considerably less to maintain in public services and infrastructure.
|There's more than one way to|
skin a fat cat!
It's only in looking at the ultimate goal of 'downtown revitalization' and 'development' that we can begin to see a strategy for local elites becoming clear. It makes sense for political, police, and business interests to come together to support each other in a push for greater repression of the poor and the suppression of grassroots organizing. That question as always, is that if they are organized around their interests, why aren't we?