Open Letter from Religious Leaders Opposing Sit/Lie Proposal

by on March 29, 2010

Dear Chief Gascón, Mayor Newsom and Members of the Board of Supervisors:

We stand with working people, immigrants, queer people, and poor people in opposing a proposal for a law that would criminalize sitting or lying on public sidewalks.

Homeless people in our community are members of our community, and a law in any form that would criminalize them is morally reprehensible and contrary to the spirit of sanctuary in San Francisco.

Such a law, though designed to target homeless people, could — and we believe will — very easily be used against other valued members of our communities, such as day laborers and youth in low-income neighborhoods. The implications for free speech and shared public space are a threat for all members of our community.

We recognize that the resources are scarce and that most people in public spaces — regardless of their housing status — are not criminals.

We oppose a law that would make it illegal to sit or lie on any sidewalk.

We believe such a law would not be effective at guiding people to services, would not make the community any safer, and would encroach on our community members’ civil rights.

The Steering Committee:

Rev. Dr. Dorsey Odell Blake
Rev. Jana Drakka
Mr. John “Fitz” Fitzgerald
Rev. Norman Fong
Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan
Rev. Keenan Colton Kelsey
Pastor April Prosser
Father Louie Vitale
Rabbi Micah Hyman
Rev. Schuyler Rhodes
Rev. Nobu Hanaoka
Mr. Michael Bien

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