Written by James Douglas, Matthew Vernon Whalan and homeless citizens of Brattleboro
Brattleboro, Vermont — James Douglas, a homeless citizen of Brattleboro, was arrested on July 11, 2019, at 12:30 a.m. for sleeping in Plaza Park downtown. People who sleep there at night do so because they have no other safe place to go. Now that park is no longer safe.
We in the homeless community feel that the police enforce and threaten to enforce the trespassing ordinances randomly – not consistently – and on public property, which, for the homeless, is like being terrorized; you never know when they will show up.
Due to the recent increase in arrests, no trespass citations, and threats of arrest toward homeless people by police, the homeless community of Brattleboro will be taking direct action in order to demand 3 basic concessions from the community at large.
These three demands are: 1) In the long-term, we demand housing. 2) In the short-term, we demand to be treated with dignity and respect – and no longer with prejudice – by the non-homeless community of Brattleboro. 3) Also in the short-term, we want consistent opportunities to publicly platform homeless voices on the subject of homeless life in the local democratic process – such as in selectboard, the local press, and other forums. The community at large will never understand the realities of homeless life unless homeless people are on the frontlines of information gathering and decision-making related to their lives.
The homeless community of Brattleboro and its allies will be participating in a series of demonstrations over the coming months themed around these three demands. The first of these demonstrations will take place on Monday, July 22, at 4:45 p.m., at which time homeless demonstrators and their allies will surround Plaza Park with Douglas, standing side by side and holding signs with messages themed around the three basic demands cited above – housing, dignity and respect, and a primary role in the political process. The goal is to perform the demonstration while the Amtrak Train is stopped at five p.m. so that those stuck in traffic nearby cannot drive past without noticing our protest.