Target: Ft. Lauderdale Mayor John P. Seiler
Goal: Repeal laws making it illegal to ask for money or sleep in public
In yet another effort to make life impossible for the less fortunate, the city of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida passed measures making it illegal to sleep in public within the city or to panhandle at busy intersections. Those who break the law could be subject to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, despite the fact that the people these measures criminalize clearly don’t have the money to pay such a fine. Both measures were passed unanimously by the Ft. Lauderdale City Commission, headed by the city’s mayor, John P. Seiler.
By passing laws like this, cities effectively make life more difficult and dangerous for some of our most vulnerable citizens. A law that criminalizes sleeping in public forces homeless individuals outside of the city limits, where it’s harder to find a safe place to sleep or a soup kitchen. Making it harder to panhandle will only ensure that more homeless people go hungry. With these new laws, Ft. Lauderdale’s elected officials have made life more more difficult for the homeless to access resources that keep them alive, and may end up responsible for the loss of human life.
Homeless people are not trash to be swept out of sight for the benefit of people who are lucky enough to have everything they need. We should be working toward finding these people homes, not forcing them into even more desperate situations just because we don’t want to look at them. By signing this petition, you’ll be demanding that the leaders of Ft. Lauderdale repeal these laws and focus on helping the homeless rather than punishing them for existing as well as standing up against the growing trend across the U.S. of criminalizing homelessness.
Dear Mayor Seiler,
Due to dire economic circumstances that are out of their control, the homeless population across the country has increased substantially. These are people who have lost everything due to job loss, mortgage fraud, mental illness, or any of a thousand other things over which they had little control. Many of them are veterans, and others are teenagers escaping abusive homes. They are some of the most threatened people in the nation, and they need our help.
The stated mission of your City Commission is to represent public interest. However, despite widespread opposition to two measures that outlaw sleeping in public and panhandling at busy intersections, you and your fellow commissioners passed these ordinances a few days ago. Both of these laws will put the homeless of your city in greater peril. People may die due to lack of access to safe places to sleep and basic needs like food. As mayor, these deaths would be on your hands.
It’s ethically reprehensible to put lives at risk just because you want your city to look better. Higher property values are not worth the deaths of those whose local and federal governments have failed them. You should be working to protect and uplift the homeless, not criminalize their existence and drive them out like rats. I demand that you and your commission repeal these hateful measures and start treating the homeless like people.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: HomeleRSS via Wikimedia Commons