Many places around the world have been put on emergency lockdown and community quarantines. Social distancing is also enforced, and in some places, more drastically. All governments want to keep the citizens safe, and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. But, some think that some places take things too extremely. Take the city of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. People are shocked that police officers have been imposing fines for not observing social distancing and quarantine rules during the pandemic. Their target, homeless people.
The tickets issued come with a fine of $750, something a homeless person surely cannot afford to pay. Some of them probably never saw that much money in their lives. It comes to no surprise that local human rights advocates are speaking out about this injustice, and ignorance. According to Lisa Nussey of Keeping Six, a local homeless advocacy group, fining people will not solve anything. And definitely not to homeless people who have no shelter to stay in, and no money to pay the fine.
“I think the message to police should be that this is a question of public health, not law and order, and people need to be given every opportunity and every avenue to promote public health,” Nussey expressed. According to the police chief, Eric Girt, cops were giving violators warnings and gradually enforcing the social distancing orders over time. He mentioned that the giving of tickets would be up to the police officer’s discretion.
“We want compliance first. We certainly explained it to a number of people. Some people remain oppositional, so then we’re put in a spot where we may have to do enforcement and that’s obviously our last alternative,” he commented. But to be fair, Ontario is not the only ones having problems with the homeless during this pandemic. Large homeless populations all over are experiencing unique challenges during the Coronavirus pandemic. France has also had policemen accused of fining homeless people for being outside and not minding the quarantine. Still, there must be better alternatives to fining the homeless, like maybe getting them to a shelter where they can quarantine themselves. Some places have given the homeless access to temporary housing in shelters and even hotels, but more often than not, they are treated like criminals rather than humans in need.
The Coronavirus has brought out the best in some – truly heroes during a crisis, and the worst in others, who don’t think because they are afraid. We all should do what we can to help, and use our common-sense especially when treating others. In LA, California, there is a group of homeless single mothers –”the reclaimers”, who occupy vacant houses to get themselves and their families off the streets during this crisis. Local authorities have allowed this for the time being. Hopefully no untoward incidents happen. And hopefully, the authorities will desist from fining the homeless. Fine the irresponsible and arrogant, don’t take it out on the homeless.
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