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Letters to the Editor 

To serve and protect?

After reading your article "Rags Amid Riches" (by Karen Shugart, Oct. 24), I thought about another major problem that homeless people are encountering. Our government should not be the devices used to persecute the poor and homeless. I have heard people say the police department gets a certain amount of money for each person arrested. This money and incentive to arrest people comes from our government. Poor communities and the homeless population are being targeted. Our police are supposed to be around to serve and protect. But the least able people are harassed and picked on repeatedly. I don't think there has been anyone who comes down to the Urban Ministry who has not been stopped and arrested. After being clean from a jail record for 20 years, I now have a bogus misdemeanor record simply because I was sitting on the street eating some food a man had just dropped off to us. We were sitting on the sidewalk eating and that was called trespassing and traffic interference. It was a dead end and no traffic. How do you rebound to a better life? If a homeless person gets 3 or 4 arrests a year, who is going to hire him or her with this kind of record?

We are not protected by our government or the police department. I know that there are drug dealers out there that need to be removed off the street and other violators of the law who should be sought out and apprehended. But there are many law-abiding citizens who are not on drugs who are homeless. The police department is targeting the homeless and I see it. It is wrong and it needs to be looked at. The Bible also says it is wrong to oppress the poor. Are the police law-abiding citizens when they do these things? I say no.

I do agree with the panhandling laws. I see the guys pan handle and go directly and buy crack. But I can't speak for them all. It's bad enough the government is giving our jobs away to foreigners.

-- An anonymous person who frequents Urban Ministry

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