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Homeless advocates ‘Rally for the Right to Exist’

Tue, Jun 12, 2012

The new state law aimed at evicting the Occupy Nashville encampment outside the Tennessee State Capitol is but one more in a long string of laws that have a negative impact on people experiencing homelessness, according to advocates for the homeless community who organized the “Rally for the Right to Exist” protest on April 1 at Legislative Plaza.

Gov. Bill Haslam recently signed a law into effect prohibiting overnight camping on state property. Those with no other option but to sleep outside may be jailed for up to one year and fined $2,500 on a first offense.

Protesters risked arrest and staged a sleep-in overnight at the plaza, in violation of the law, after a day full of service and awareness events designed to educate attendees about laws that criminalize the everyday living activities of people who are homeless.

More than 100 people attended the rally throughout the day, with about 45 spending the night on the plaza. No arrests were made, but Tennessee State Troopers patrolled the area overnight.

“It was awesome. It was a quiet, low key night and most of us got at least a couple of hours of sleep,” said Lindsey Krinks, a homeless outreach worker and one of the event’s organizers.

Earlier in the day, Krinks welcomed attendees with stories of people she’s met on the streets and how they were disproportionately targeted using social profiling for enforcement of laws prohibiting trespassing, public intoxication and obstruction of passageways.

“You see, if you look like me, you can cut through parking lots, carry an open container, sit on the sidewalk and lay a blanket down on state property for a picnic and a nap. But if you look like my friends [experiencing homelessness] these simple, non-criminal acts can carry fines and jail time,” she told attendees.

Written By: Jesse Call
The Contributor

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