One of the most disheartening news trends, albeit not a new one, is how being poor in America can, quite literally, become a crime.
There is a heartbreaking article in Salon Magazine that brings this to light. It’s an excerpt of Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Nickel and Dimed. Ehrenreich goes undercover to try and get by while walking in the shoes of this country’s low wage workers. Ehrenreich’s journey was in 1998 when Americans were not struggling on the scale that they are right now.
Ehrenreich recalls the story of a 62-year-old homeless Vietnam veteran in a wheelchair who was arrested while sleeping in a homeless shelter because he had an outstanding warrant. His warrant was for criminal trespassing due to the fact that he had been previously caught sleeping in the street. So, in fact, they arrested him for being homeless.
The push to criminalize low wage workers, the poverty stricken and destitute may even be ramping up. Just check out the news.
signed legislation for mandatory drug testing for adults applying for welfare. CNN reports that Scott says it is "unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction." So if you have fallen on hard times and you need assistance from the safety net that our country has put in place, there is an assumption of criminal activity. Right off the bat, no questions asked.
A little closer to home, in Los Angeles, the police routinely patrol skid row. Police collect the belongings of the homeless when they step away from their items, even for a moment. The personal belongings, whatever they may be (clothes, photos, cardboard) are put into a dump truck. According to the Los Angeles Times, a soup kitchen worker watched as the belongings of the homeless were thrown into the trash. "They just took everybody's stuff. They were just eating lunch and when they rushed out to grab their shopping carts, the police said, 'No, this is abandoned property."
Fullerton is in turmoil right now because of the by the police last month.
The assumption that those who are defined as "low-income" are inherently criminal is an acceptable argument right here in Mission Viejo. All you need to do is read a few comments regarding a proposed high-density apartment with some units set aside for low-income residents.
"That sounds terrible. That area is already looking trashy with higher crime."
Ann says, "...while it would mean more diversity for Mission Viejo it will also be accompanied by higher crime rates."
Palmiaresident says, "I've seen what section eight housing does in a nice community, Irvine. Calls for police services will go up. Lots of luck."