Dramatizing the Need to Rescue the Homeless
HOMELESSESS: A LIFE-THREATENING CONDITION
Recently, on a Wednesday at 12 noon, six friends and I drove to the U.S. Capitol, ran out into the middle of the street carrying two couches, several chairs, tables, and lamps, and proceeded to sit down.
We were arrested and jailed overnight. The next morning, hauled into court before a judge, we pled “Not Guilty.” A trial date was set. We faced one year in jail and heavy fines. Later, one of the charges was dropped.
The seven of us had attempted a symbolic eviction to call attention to the crisis of homelessness that plagues the land. Nearly three million people are homeless in this country and Congress estimates that there will be nearly 19 million homeless by the year 2000. In Washington, D.C., 50 evictions take place each day and homeless people are recruited to do the evicting, at $5.00 an eviction. Since 1981 the government has cut the housing budget 77 percent — $25 billion. We took to the streets in dramatic fashion, using the creative nonviolence of Dr. King, Gandhi, and Dorothy Day to demand affordable housing now.
Our trial took place at the D.C. Courthouse. The first step in the procedure was picking a jury. We were asked to introduce ourselves to a room of 48 potential jurors. We each told of our religious motivation and years of service among the poor and destitute of Washington, D.C.
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