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Remove hostile architecture from city benches.

This petition had 5,520 supporters


Dear Mayor Shull and Esteemed Aldermen:

Recently, Kingsport city installed sleep deterrents (aka bum bars) on city park benches across the Model City. As reported by news outlets on Monday September 23, these blocks were installed in response to recent crime and drug activity on public property. In validation of the reports from local news sources that many Kingsport residents oppose this action modifying our park benches, please find attached a petition signed by 2,102 citizens of Kingsport calling for the removal of the partitions. These signatures were collected over a 52-hour period.

Regardless of the intentions behind installing the partitions on city benches, these blocks target those in our society that are poor, homeless, and struggling. The blocks do not address the causes of drug use and homelessness. If the blocks  have any impact at all, it will simply be to move the homelessness and drug use somewhere else in our city.  Wherever these matters ultimately reside, city resources will still be needed to address them. These blocks also make it more difficult for people who are overweight, walking with the assistance of a walker, and for families to sit and enjoy our Greenbelt and parks.

While I cannot speak for each person who signed this petition, I have spent time reading the comments provided by many who signed it and want you to know that there are four major objections to these blocks:

1.      They make it appear that Kingsport is targeting vulnerable citizens—our poor and struggling.

2.     They are ineffective for the stated task, i.e., deterring homeless from sleeping on public properties.

3.     They make our community look and feel unwelcoming.

4.     The partitions are unsightly.

You are already working on other more effective and less controversial ways to accomplish our shared objective of a safer Kingsport. Your recently implemented plans for increased police patrol, brighter lighting in high crime areas, security cameras, the soon-to-be-hired police department social worker, and the recently announced homelessness coalition are all fresh ways to aggressively and proactively address the drug epidemic and homelessness crisis facing our city. I am thankful for these tremendous efforts and recognize your genuine desire to protect the citizens of Kingsport. The blocks on benches are a small and unnecessary part of a much larger plan that is likely to have substantial positive impact on our community.

Your job is not an easy one. I understand that some in our community have been calling for a crack-down on crime, especially in the downtown area. While the burden of devising and implementing plans to protect citizens falls on you, the burden of speaking out when we disagree with action taken by our city officials falls on us. The blocks are sending the wrong message about both Kingsport citizens and the Kingsport city government.

Thank you for your service to our city and for your thoughtful consideration of this request to remove the blocks.

 

Karen Boyd



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