This morning's Seattle Times picked up yesterday's Los Angeles Times story by Northwest Regional reporter Stuart Glascock that describes the proliferation of anti-panhandling ordinances in Tacoma, Auburn, and soon, Federal Way. The story focuses on how Tacoma and Auburn have already used their laws to shut down Real Change vendors in those cities, and our plans to push back against this erosion of the First Amendment.
But an interesting thing happened on the way to the front page of the Seattle Times. Outside of some minor editing and re-arrangement for local emphasis, two paragraphs from the LA Times story were deleted. The omission of the second paragraph is especially revealing.
In addition to Real Change, papers in New York; Oakland; Portland, Ore.; Sacramento; San Diego and Washington are among the 37 members of the North American Street Newspaper Assn.These paragraphs are missing from the web version as well. Given that the Seattle Times is a staunch supporter of the Mayor's plan to criminalize homelessness with sweeping new anti-camping rules, one can see why they might not want to go there.
Strict anti-panhandling laws are part of a broader tendency to criminalize homelessness, said Tulin Ozdeger, civil rights program director for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty in Washington. "If cities are using laws to restrict homeless people from employing themselves, it really shows a discriminatory approach to people who are homeless," Ozdeger said.