I was deeply saddened by your guest post writer's failure to understand the connection between inarticulate, less-than-clean protestors at the Arcata Plaza and the current multifaceted international "Occupy Wall Street" movement (Blog Jammin', Nov. 3). Unfortunately, "take back the plaza," and "push these protestors out," is our community's attitude. Where are we going to push these "protestors" to? Who is going to hire these untouchables? Article upon article highlight the idea that if we stop helping these people, they will go away. Residents complain that services enable the unwanted population. They are an eyesore, poop in our doorsteps, scare off tourists, have bad manners, pester us for change, food, cigarettes; they are an overall nuisance. Well. They are not going away. What can we do?
Let's take care of them. It has never been my experience that a problem disappears by not solving it. These people obviously cannot take care of themselves. Given shower stalls and public restrooms, a place to sleep, meals and smoking areas, they will be clean, fed and at the plaza less often. There will be less poop in our doorways. But if they look just like everyone else, how will we discriminate against them?
There are organizations eager to provide help, camping space, shelter and meals. Others offer job skills, counseling and legal help. Public restrooms and shower stalls? Sounds like a burden to taxpayers. But I know people who work 40-plus hours a week and still need food stamps and housing assistance. Make it the responsibility of employers to pay a living wage, and property owners to charge reasonable rents, rather than leaving the government to foot the bill, and there will be more money for people who need it. Also, a recent sales tax increase intended to alleviate the plaza problem has proven to be less than fruitful. Could we redirect some of those funds?
Why should it be our responsibility to take care of these freeloaders? Because we do not want disgusting, inarticulate, lazy vagrants on the plaza. And because we really are the caring, understanding, proactive community we claim to be.
Sarah Pobiecke, Arcata
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