Cruel and Unusual: Closing Downtown’s Parks to the Homeless in a Heatwave

In its eagerness to rid its showcase downtown of the reality of homelessness, the City of Tucson is endangering the lives and health of those many homeless who are based in the downtown. After first closing Veinte de Agosto park just in time for the heatwave’s arrival on Monday — closing off one area of shade trees and greenery to the homeless — today they have tightened the noose a bit further by also closing the park in front of the library (see the photo, taken this morning), where many who had congregated during the day at Veinte de Agosto had been gathering since its closure.

In the name of common human decency we call upon the City to open up these parks and to provide other aid as well during this, one of the worst heat waves of the decade. We have been writing the Mayor, City Council and others to this effect since Craig Gray sent us the photo and reported on the library park closure this morning, and we encourage others to do so as well.

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Photo by Craig Gray

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2 Responses to Cruel and Unusual: Closing Downtown’s Parks to the Homeless in a Heatwave

  1. GSE June 20, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

    SATURDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE:

    The Mayor’s Office responded to our requests by sending us a list of cool places the homeless could go to cool off, all with limited capacity and all but two of them closed on Saturday, and none of them open on Sunday. Nothing from them about any specific downtown attempts to provide relief.

    I stopped by the library park downtown at about 2:00 p.m where there was a number of police cars gathered and an arrest of one guy going on — apparently for something he’d allegedly done in the library. I was told that that about 30 people were sleeping by Veinte de Agosto last night. I saw about ten to fifteen of the V de A crowd gathered together at the corner of Church and Pennington, looking quite miserable in the heat.

    The parks are both still fully cordoned off, the City even tried to cordon off part of the shoulder of the sidewalk along Pennington so the folks there couldn’t use the low shaded wall that runs along there to sit on, but the tape along there had been torn down and the police didn’t seem to be working too hard to reestablish that particular cordon (perhaps because they really don’t have a legal leg to stand on, as that shoulder is probably a part of the sidewalk).

  2. GSE June 23, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

    Tuesday Update:

    It appears that the City has relented a little today and opened up the lawn on the library park that runs along Pennington, though not the more shaded lawn that which runs along Alameda. And of course Veinte de Agosto remains very much closed.

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