While the question of what to do with or about the masses of homeless people camping out on public property in many of our nation’s cities remains complicated, many municipal elected officials have finally begun to feel the pressure to do something about the problem. While most of the homeless are obviously in need of help in one form or another, the “tent cities” that they’ve erected are always hotbeds of crime and disease and voters are growing tired of dealing with the potential dangers they pose. From Seattle to Los Angeles and even New York City, homeless encampments are being cleared out, with officials scrambling to find places where the homeless can be dealt with and helped appropriately. But there’s one exception to that rule, and that’s in Baltimore. Maryland officials are now considering a bill that would bar police from clearing people from such public encampments, effectively making the tent cities a permanent fixture of modern life. (Free Beacon)
Some of the nation’s most liberal cities are cracking down on their homeless populations. But Maryland may soon ban police from removing homeless people from public property.
A Democratic-backed bill in the Maryland statehouse would prevent police from enforcing Failure to Obey Lawful Orders laws, which critics say would permit homeless camps, known as “tent cities,” on public property. The sponsor of the bill, Democratic delegate Sheila Ruth, said in a committee hearing that these tent cities are not harmful or dangerous to communities.
“We shouldn’t be destroying homeless encampments,” Ruth said.
These massive homeless encampments represent a danger not only to the surrounding communities but to the homeless themselves. Assaults and robberies are commonplace and few of the residents have any way to safeguard their few belongings. Prostitution, drug dealing, and robberies are regular occurrences and healthcare options for victims are minimal at best.
So why would Sheila Ruth and her Democratic colleagues be bucking a national trend and trying to prevent previously normal enforcement of Failure to Obey Lawful Orders laws and rules against establishing encampments on public sidewalks and in parks? This once again seems to be a case of the Democratic majority in the state legislature completely ignoring the obvious preferences of the public.
As the linked report reminds us, outgoing Republican Governor Larry Hogan has been aggressively pushing for a new “refund the police” program in his state. Current polling shows that a large majority of voters, including a majority of the residents of Baltimore and African-Americans in the city, strongly support the Governor’s efforts. And yet the state legislature (along with the municipal government of Baltimore) is once again pushing in the exact opposite direction.
I realize I’ve said this before about the Baltimore city government, but it seems to apply to the state legislature as well. When your elected leaders continue to enact bad policies with which you disagree and which make your lives worse, it’s your responsibility to dump them at the ballot box and elect someone more willing to get the job done. But that never seems to happen in Baltimore nor in the state as a whole. They keep sending the same progressive and frequently corrupt partisan players back to office time after time. So whose fault is this situation really? The responsibility rests on the shoulders of the voters. If you don’t like the crime, the violence, and the tent cities clogging your streets, you are the ones to blame for those conditions. And until you start picking better leaders and legislators, you’ll just have to continue to deal with it.