Homeless people are not criminals, poverty is not a crime

Homelessness, poverty and the law are locked and linked in a symbiosis which perpetuates the former.

Homeless people are not criminals, poverty is not a crime

Homelessness, poverty and the law are locked and linked in a symbiosis which perpetuates the former. There is considerably greater chance to fall foul of the law and its processes if one is homeless and poor. Being homeless and poor is not a crime.

But to highlight the point through repetition - the chances of being determined guilty of a crime are greater if one is either homeless or poor. Whether or not one is actually guilty. That is how the system works. Because of the disempowerment of those concerned the system remains wrong, idle, and downright corrupt.

To illustrate and argue this point, we need only listen to RTÉ Radio One’s news item of September 30 which, discussing the problems of Dublin’s Moore Street, lists them off as drug dealing, illegal cigarette selling, anti-social behaviour, loitering, and homelessness.

To be homeless in this context is a crime. Homelessness is not a crime, but it is associated with such. And it perpetuates the myth that somehow the homeless are homeless because they deserve to be. Thus the homeless are subject to malicious and/or misinformed profiling. The causes and perpetration of homelessness should be considered a crime before the child, woman or man is considered such.

Thus it is that they, the homeless, may become angry. To be angry is not a crime. The homeless are arguably the most profiled social group in all Ireland. Consequentially and literally spat on, isolated, alienated — caused to endure physical and mental duress to the point of abuse and beyond.

And yet where is the voice which acknowledges that any of this against the homeless is a crime?

Thus at the primary level of judicial reaction it is absolutely and necessarily crucial and incumbent for the Garda to apply mindfulness and awareness. This homeless observer has been physically threatened, bullied, robbed, and abused by Garda in the past.

Jan Wolnik

Tent in Croppie Acre

Ard Mhúsaem Luas stop

This reader's opinion was first published in the print edition Irish Examiner on December 12, 2019

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