While I was delighted that Raleigh created and supported the Oak City Outreach Center to assist the homeless and otherwise disadvantaged, I am equally dismayed to have read Josh Shaffer’s Dec. 1 column “ Breach of peace, or a joyful noise?” from which one can infer that whatever Raleigh’s efforts may be to conduct a war on homelessness, we still seem to be mired in the quagmire of making war on the homeless.
That anyone’s First Amendment rights can be forfeited simply for begging is travesty enough, but in this case, the eyewitness accounts reported by Shaffer suggest that Mavis Valerie Bryant was not even begging. Rather, her charges stemmed from hearsay based on a phone call repeating what someone else had told the caller!
It would appear that, in reality, Bryant’s “crimes” were singing, being black and being homeless. I’m curious: Did anyone ask if she were all right and if she needed anything? Did anyone bother to see her as a fellow human being and offer to buy her lunch, rather than merely hassling her? For shame.
Donald B. Zepp
Co-founder, vice president, Human Beans Together