Civil Rights

“Make all those poor people go away, Daddy!”

By Mary Getlein

Well, sweetness, we are doing the best we can – we’ve made it illegal to sit in the sand after midnight – that probably gets rid of a bunch right there. It’s illegal to feed them. It’s illegal to give them money. It’s illegal to talk to them. We have to isolate them – it’s the only chance we have. We don’t want to end up like them, do we?

So we turn people invisible. All you have to do is be poor, and people can’t see you.

Sometimes I hang on the beach and there is this big mound of bread delivered to the poor. What’s sad is, there are so many older people who rely on this. At the end of the month, when everyone has spent all their money, the bread goes very quickly. And many older people are disappointed, and don’t get any bread. Google and other companies notwithstanding, there are still hidden “pockets of poverty” all through Venice. It would be nice if we could help people in- stead of trying to get rid of them.

You might miss out on a great friendship with someone you wouldn’t ordinarily meet. The poor have a lot to tell you, but you don’t want to hear how it feels at the bottom rung of society, right before they come and take you away, for being crazy in public. Not eating regularly, not having enough water to drink, living on the streets, in a car, or in an alley, that life takes its toll on you. It’s hard to stay sober when you’re trying to “make it through another day.”

This country has so much money, wouldn’t you agree? We need shelter for our citizens. We need to stop criminalizing people for being poor. We need our beach back. Our beach was ripped off by the L.A. City Council and “closed” from 12 am to 5 am. The Coastal Commission says every Californian has 24 hour, 7 days a week access to the beach. What is Ven- ice Beach without the beach?

Criminalizing people and throwing them in jail only creates money for the prison system. Every time

they move a prisoner (from jail to court and back again), the State gets charged. It should not be a crime to be homeless. The real criminals are the banks, which led a lot of people down a pretty path to economic ruin. And yet our country bailed the banks out. They need to bail our citizens out of poverty, persecution, and fear. We have a caste system in place and we don’t really care what we do with the “Un- touchables,” as long as we don’t have to look at them or see their reality.

Venice needs to have more input with the deci- sions that affect Venice. Most of the citizens of Ven- ice are not on the side of the “homeless haters.” Most people are able to put their prejudices aside and see the person there, not the cartoon figure they have in their mind of what a homeless person is supposed to be. 