“City of Peasant Living”: South Miami Signal Vandalized After Panhandling Legislation Passes

The welcome signal on the entrance to the City of South Miami touts the Miami-Dade suburb as “The City of Pleasant Living.” But in a current occasion of both cosmic irony or cynical vandalism shared on social media by Islandia Journal writer Jason Katz, the letter L on the signal has gone lacking, and the municipality’s motto now reads: “The City of Peasant Living.”

According to Sally Philips, South Miami’s mayor, the unlucky typo is believed to be an act of vandalism that the town is already working to right. While Philips can acknowledge the vandals’ ingenuity, she would not discover the present phrase to be humorous or correct.

“I don’t find it particularly humorous, but it was clever,” Philips tells New Times. “What a difference that one letter makes.”

She has some extent: The small suburb of about 12,000 residents is not precisely identified for its “peasant living.” According to U.S. Census information, South Miami’s median family earnings of $66,769 is properly above the county’s total median of $53,975, and its poverty fee of 12 p.c is properly beneath the county’s fee of 15 p.c.

That mentioned, Philips theorizes that the vandalization could be linked to the town’s houseless inhabitants and a current ordinance that criminalizes panhandling.

“Every city has homelessness and panhandling,” Philips notes.

“Camping” on public property is already prohibited in South Miami. But on April 5, commissioners voted unanimously to move a decision limiting panhandling by prohibiting individuals from soliciting others for cash, items, or companies whereas on public transportation, at a bus cease, at an ATM, or at somebody’s automobile window once they’ve stopped at a visitors mild. Anyone discovered responsible of panhandling could be fined as much as $200 and withstand 30 days in jail, and in the event that they’re discovered to be panhandling “aggressively,” the effective can attain as a lot as $500 and the jail time will increase to a most of 60 days.

“One way to stop panhandling is to stop giving people money, but you can’t arrest people for giving money,” Philips says. “However, you can tell panhandlers to not be aggressive.”

While Philips is pleased with the fee’s work to deal with homelessness within the metropolis, homeless advocates like legal professional Dante Trevisani, who grew up in South Miami, name these resolutions “anti-homeless laws,” and argue that they do little to stop or remedy the problems that trigger houseless people to ask for cash or sleep on benches.

“Like many cities, their people are complaining about homeless people being around businesses in the downtown area,” says Trevisani, government director of the Florida Justice Institute, a nonprofit advocacy legislation agency. “The step that they take is criminalization, but that’s wrong on many fronts, and it’s ineffective. It doesn’t do anything to treat the root causes of homelessness.”

Trevisani says comparable anti-panhandling and anti-camping laws has been overturned for violating First Amendment rights to free speech and Eighth Amendment rights towards merciless and strange punishment. South Miami’s ordinances, he provides, learn virtually identically to the same ordinance handed by the City of Fort Lauderdale, which was struck down by a federal decide final June Fort Lauderdale was ordered to repeal the ordinance and pay damages to a number of houseless individuals who’d sued.

It’s not simply that these legal guidelines are unconstitutional, Trevisani explains. By criminalizing homelessness, the legal guidelines additional traumatize a few of the metropolis’s most disenfranchised residents.

“People end up back on the street worse off because now they have a criminal record, fines, and fees to deal with, and the trauma of being in jail,” the legal professional says. “For people with nowhere to live, this criminalizes their very existence.”

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