Recently the Los Angeles City Council voted to make sleeping on the beach a crime. The action seems geared more to evoke mirth than dismay, but in the context of our times it becomes a startling symbol. The homeless can be tolerated only as long as they remain invisible.
The ordinance was proposed by newly elected Councilwoman Ruth Galanter who is under pressure from many Venice merchants and homeowners. Galanter is pressing the city to set up shelters for the homeless in various districts of the city, similar to ones she sponsored in her own district. She justly lambastes the federal government and Los Angeles County for passing the buck on a national crisis caused by "trickle-down" economic policies.
Admittedly, solving the problems of the homeless is a real dilemma which has put the public sector in near paralysis. But into this vacuum of policy have moved local vigilantes who recently took it upon themselves to threaten St. Joseph's Center with arson and physical harm to its staff. St. Joseph's, which cares for the homeless, already suffered apparent arson in 1985.
While I can offer no wise words on the political process, I believe that responsible persons should do what they can to inject some reason into what is literally becoming an inflammatory situation. The Judeo-Christian tradition bids us to choose life and honor the poor. Let's hope that somehow people who honor that tradition put it into practice in our region.
FR. JIM SCHRIDER