Friday, April 14, 2006

Federal Appeals Court Rules for Involuntary Homeless

Federal Appeals Court Rules for Involuntary Homeless

A federal appeals court has ruled today in favor of six homeless persons in their challenge of the city's practice of arresting homeless persons for violating a municipal ordinance which states that "no person shall sit, lie or sleep in or upon any street, sidewalk or public way."
The appeals court ruled that the manner in which the city has enforced the ordinance has criminalized "the status of homelessness by making it a crime to be homeless," and thereby violated the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. City officials had no immediate comment on the ruling, but it appeared that the decision could have significant ramifications for the city's policy on the burgeoning problem of homelessness..

..In her ruling, Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw said that Los Angeles' Skid Row has the highest concentration of homeless individuals in the United States. She said that about 11,000 to 12,000 homeless people live in Skid Row, a 50-block area, bounded by Third, Seventh, Main and Alameda Streets.

"Because there is substantial and undisputed evidence that the number of homeless persons in Los Angeles far exceeds the number of available shelter beds at all times, including on the night" the plaintiffs were arrested or cited, "Los Angeles has encroached upon" the plaintiffs' 8th Amendment protections "by criminalizing the unavoidable act
[my emphasis] of sitting, lying or sleeping at night while being involuntarily homeless," Wardlaw wrote..

April 14, 1865

April 14, 1865
April 14, 1865: Lincoln fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth while attending play at Ford's Theater, Washington, D.C.

A southern sympathizer loyal to Virginia, Booth was a twenty-six-year-old struggling actor at the time of the assassination. Shortly thereafter, after escaping to Maryland and then Virginia, he was apprehended and shot to death during a struggle with federal agents in a barn in rural Virginia.


A 19th-Century poster

"He dreamed at night of his death by the hand
Of a bitter world and a faceless man

And he saw his body in a ghastly dream
Draped in black while his widow screamed

Two silver dollars on his eyelids lay
"Abraham Lincoln has died today."

- From the song "John Wilkes Booth" by Mary Chapin Carpenter


"About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible.

I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. I saw light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise.

Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers, 'The President,' was his answer; 'he was killed by an assassin.'

Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since."

-- President Abraham Lincoln