The New Crime of Eating While Homeless

The Blind BeggarJim Hightower, writing at OtherWords:

Whenever one of our cities gets a star turn as host of some super-sparkly event, such as a national political gathering or the Super Bowl, its first move is to tidy up — by having the police sweep homeless people into jail, out of town, or under some rug.

But Houston’s tidy-uppers aren’t waiting for a world-class event to rationalize going after homeless down-and-outers. They’ve preemptively outlawed the “crime” of dumpster diving in the Texan city.

In March, James Kelly, a 44-year-old Navy veteran, was passing through Houston on his way to connect with family in California. Homeless, destitute, and hungry, he chose to check out the dining delicacies in a trash bin near City Hall. Spotted by police, Kelly was promptly charged with “disturbing the contents of a garbage can in the [central] business district.” Seriously.

“I was just basically looking for something to eat,” he told the Houston Chronicle. But, unbeknownst to both this indigent tourist and the great majority of Houston’s generally generous citizens, an ordinance dating way back to 1942 says that “molesting garbage containers” is illegal.

Also, in 2012, city officials made it a crime for any group to hand out food to the needy in the downtown area without first getting a permit. It’s a cold use of legal authority to chase the homeless away to…well, anywhere else.

Such laws are part of an effort throughout the country to criminalize what some call “homeless behavior.” And, sure enough, when hungry, the behavioral tendency of a homeless human is to seek a bite of nourishment, often in such dining spots as dumpsters. The homeless behavior that Houston has outlawed, then, is eating.

Read more here.

15 Comments on "The New Crime of Eating While Homeless"

  1. BuzzCoastin | May 26, 2013 at 8:15 pm |

    makes ya proud to be aMerkin
    cops rousting hungry people
    while Obummer, Bush & Cheney walk free
    ya gotta love the personal freedom in the greatest kuntery on earth

  2. Anarchy Pony | May 26, 2013 at 8:25 pm |

    Tie this with privately run prisons and you got yourself a gold mine. Of course, private prison prostitutes are probably quite purposefully and actively pursuing the criminalization of homelessness.

  3. This may be a solution

    Krokus: Eat the Rich

  4. ParanoidCoast | May 26, 2013 at 9:51 pm |

    Dumpster diving is gleaning. Here’s an excellent documentary about gleaning:

  5. MoralDrift | May 26, 2013 at 10:21 pm |

    Eh…this stuff doesn’t surprise me at all anymore. Seriously, I’m waiting for someone to reintroduce debtors prisons or what will probably be rolled out as “supervised living” for those hopelessly indebted

  6. When I was living in Memphis my website partner showed up at my bar one night. He had been on Beale Street and had been hit up by a homeless person for a handout. My buddy was one of those people who would give them the handout but they were gonna talk for a minute or two.

    On this night the person in question informed my buddy that he had just gotten out of jail in Nashville that afternoon. My friend asked him how he’d gotten to Memphis so quickly, thinking he had hopped a freight. Nope! Nashville had bought the man a ticket to Memphis and made sure that he didn’t cash it in by loading him on the bus. They’d also given him $50 to help him on his new start in his new town.

    After doing a little searching I found where Nashville had admitted to this in it’s local paper but had put enough spin on it to make it sound like a good thing. And this right after Atlanta had been sued for doing the same thing to neighboring townships. I guess Nashville figured if they moved everyone to the other end of the State they wouldn’t get noticed. Either that or there was some palm greasing done somewhere. Since the Mayor liked to hang out and party at Marlo Thomas’ house, whose father built St. Jude’s from his success, and is referred to as King Willy, I figured him to be the prime candidate for the offending grease zerk.

    Houston seems to have taken this to a new level (depth). Of course it’s one thing for the boys from Houston to make a mess in the Gulf, or even in Arkansas – Huey Long is turning in his grave – but don’t come disturbing their trash. Since the Govt. subsidies of the Oil Industry continue to this day, this seems especially hypocritical. “We will take money from everyone we can, but our trash is our trash!”

  7. Tuna Ghost | May 27, 2013 at 1:29 pm |

    Every time I think Texas can’t make me think less of it, it has to prove me wrong

  8. Equeslover | May 27, 2013 at 1:36 pm |

    well those who own restaurants would be well served to take those gently used portions of food they toss away after someone leaves say ..half a pizza and just nicely wrap and put in a for homeless container out back..I know this is deemed illegal already, but there are ways around…will work for food takes on a whole new meaning..I need my yard weeded…one buck a weed…and so on…time to find ways to help those who are allowed to slip through the cracks..a veteran no less…for God sakes I hope this nation wakes up soon…

  9. RagBoneMan | May 27, 2013 at 7:04 pm |

    Just another example of how the system that we are a part of values money and nothing else, not even the people that comprise it. Like a machine nobody can shut off. The message is – if you’ve got no spending power, you can literally fuck off and die.

  10. DrumminD21311 | May 28, 2013 at 1:10 am |

    Feed them all you want; just don’t give them change. That’s how they multiply.

  11. David Dennison | May 31, 2013 at 5:53 pm |

    I’m waiting for the day when Obama authorizes drone strikes against the homeless.

Comments are closed.