The Colorado Right to Rest Act of 2016 is live! House Bill number 1191! Representatives Joseph Salazar and Jovan Melton are leading the charge again in the state legislator. At the Right2Rest Fest on January 25th Rep Melton spoke to the crowd, “It is a right that no one should be denied. No city should push their people out and no one should be criminalized for or discriminated against for the circumstances that they face. We will continue to stand with you.”
The 2016 Colorado Right to Rest Act prohibits the enactment or enforcement of laws that criminalize resting and seeking nourishment in public spaces. It gives every person the right to sleep, sit, lay, cover oneself from the elements, sleep in your vehicle, share food, and have privacy of your belongs. In essence it gives us the right to survive.
Last year after surveying 441 people who are homeless in 12 Colorado cities we found that 70% are harassed, ticketed, or arrested for sleeping. 64% for sitting/lying down. And 61% have had their belongings taken by police or city employees. Getting told to “move along” is a daily routine.
The United States has a long history of using meanspirited and often brutal laws to keep “certain” people out of public spaces and consciousness. Jim Crow, Sundown towns, Anti-Okie laws, Operation Wetback, and Ugly laws targeted various populations based on their racial, economic, social, immigration or disability status. Understanding this history will provide context for the exclusionary and discriminatory laws that specifically target homeless people for what are referred to as “Quality of Life” or “Nuisance Crimes.” They criminalize sleeping, sitting, loitering, panhandling and even food-sharing. Just like the laws from our past, they deny people their right to exist in local communities.
Through WRAP we are bringing these bills forth in California, Oregon, and Colorado.
Join us in the work to respect our rights to be human and exist in public spaces without discrimination. If you have not yet done so you can endorse the campaign here.