A woman is led away during the protests Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in downtown Las Vegas, after activists gathered on Fremont Street to protest two controversial city policies that ban camping downtown. The activists blocked Casino Center Blvd. through the Fremont Experience following a rally at Las Vegas City Hall
On November 6, 2019, the City of Law Vegas’ city government created an ordinance that essentially criminalized ‘willful homelessness’. The law made it punishable by up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine for people to camp or sleep in Downtown Las Vegas, public areas near residential housing (like sidewalks near homes), or near businesses that deal with food like restaurants or convenience stores.
Camping in those areas was made illegal – but only when homeless shelters have beds available. If the homeless people in Las Vegas have beds being offered to them, they can accept them or face penalties that may include a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail. This is why supporters argue the ban is only on ‘willful homelessness’. If the shelters don’t have enough beds,
On January 15, 2020 Las Vegas’ city government passed a second ordinance that expands upon the November 2019 ban on willful homelessness. This expansion ordinance makes it illegal for homeless individuals to camp on any sidewalk when it is scheduled to be cleaned up using city resources.
In response to the expansion-ordinance, over 100 activists swelled the Freemont Street Experience (The FSE) area of Downtown on Monday, January 20, 2020 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and a national day of service. In acts of protest, at least 12 individuals out of the 100 attending the protests were arrested for blocking one of the streets along The FSE by setting up tents or laying down on the sidewalk – a clear and intentional violation of the original ordinance (since The FSE is in the heart of downtown).
Today both ordinances are still in place, however the protests drew national and international attention to Las Vegas including coverage by major news outlets like CNN, NPR, USA Today, FOX News, and AP News among others. That coverage also led to members of Las Vegas’ city government receiving criticism and condemnation from nearly all 2020 presidential candidates.
1) Why do you agree or disagree with the cause?
2) Why do you agree or disagree with the action?
3) Why do you agree or disagree with the punishment / consequences?
4) What cause – if any – would make you want to knowingly break the law, and why?
5) What are some better courses of action you can think of besides breaking the law in support of a cause you care about, or if you feel there aren’t any, what obstacles would prevent your from engaging in lawful resistance?
Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:
Contributed By: -M. Kamer