Colorado Springs is considering a proposal to make it illegal to sit or lie down in downtown Colorado Springs. Making the basic and necessary act of sitting illegal in downtown areas is inhumane, ineffective, costly and a violation of human rights. All people have to sit–no one can constantly be on the move–but with laws against sitting, continuously walking becomes the only legal thing to do. People who do not have the money to purchase things and spend time inside private businesses and people who do not have private homes in which to rest, have a particular need to sit and rest in public spaces.
Contact Colorado Springs City Council and Mayor Suthers TODAY and let them know why this ban on sitting is harmful to the people! See sample letter supporting the right to sit.
Email Colorado Springs City Council at AllCouncil@springsgov.com
Laws against sitting in downtown areas have spread across the United States in recent years, even as lawsuits and legislation have been challenging these laws. The Colorado Right to Rest Act, which was heard in the legislature this last session and was one of three such bills introduced in three states, declared the act of sitting in public space a right that all people must have. The Right to Rest Act will be back in the legislature in 2016 with the goal of protecting acts of rest and survival in public.
Bans on sitting in downtown areas are driven by the desire to move people without money or housing–the very people who most need to rest in public space—out of central business areas and away from those with resources. Furthermore, as can be seen in cities like Denver, which has a sit/lie ordinance, these bans are utterly ineffective even in achieving this nefarious goal of moving people out of central business areas. Instead, these laws cost cities money in increased policing, court and jail costs. On average, a city spends approximately $87 per day to incarcerate a person. In Larimer County Colorado there were over 3000 bookings of people who are homeless which has entailed over 8 million in public costs. Colorado Springs currently spends large sums of money policing and incarcerating people for necessary life-sustaining acts such as sleeping, panhandling, and urinating without access to bathrooms. This was brought to attention in October 2014 when the city began placing area restrictions for the downtown area on “repeat offenders” of these “crimes” – all 12 individuals facing the area restriction were homeless. If a sit/lie ban is passed in Colorado Springs the city will spend even more money policing and incarcerating people for non-harmful, life-sustaining acts including the most basic act of sitting.
Sit/Lie bans follow in a mean-spirited history of segregation. These bans on sitting in certain downtown areas are eerily similar to Jim Crow laws which made it illegal for people of color to sit at the same counters or buses with white people. These laws were seen to be wrong and were overturned. We must do the same with laws against sitting in downtown areas and allow all people to sit in public together.
See this article from Honolulu regarding how problematic and ineffective their Sit/Lie Ban has been. http://hawaiiindependent.net/story/study-shows-sit-lie-laws-have-worsened-honolulus-houseless-problem