Drop proposal to criminalize giving to the homeless
Police Chief William McManus is proposing to fine all drivers caught in the act of giving food and/or money to panhandlers in San Antonio, Texas. District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran, who heads the Public Safety Committe, along with Councilman Mike Gallagher like this proposal to criminalize compassionate and charitable acts within our city.
Wayne Krause, legal director for the Austin-based Texas Civil Rights Project balked, saying “The idea of criminalizing people giving is both unkind and legally unsound,” he said. “The First Amendment protects the right to ask for help. It certainly protects the right to choose to whom we give assistance. And the idea that we could criminalize charity is mean and likely unconstitutional.”
San Antonians are known for our hospitality and charitable nature and this goes directly against what we want our tax-paid law enforcement to focus on. Forcing us to choose between watching our most marginalized starve or risk being ticketed for giving them food/money is inhumane.
We are demanding that City Council and Chief McManus drop this proposal immediately and instead, look to progressive cities for creative/effective solutions [not band-aids or a blind eye] to panhandling and homelessness.
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