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Oklahoma City Council Advances Median Ordinance

homeless person holding a sign
AR McLin
/
Flickr

Nobody will be allowed on medians in Oklahoma City if an ordinance that city council advanced on Tuesday gets final approval. The prohibition would include panhandlers.

At Tuesday’s public hearing, the council heard from several citizens who oppose the measure like Derrek Jump, a veteran who advocates for homeless vets. Jump said he’s opposed to the idea of fining and jailing our poorest citizens.

"What it boils down to is extra revenue for our great city," Jump said. "The fact that we are willing to create revenue off the backs of our homeless population is absolutely reprehensible."

Opponents of the measure included people who work for the Fill the Boot project, the Homeless Alliance, and the Curbside Chronicle --- a newspaper sold by homeless individuals.

Disabled combat veteran John Roark works with homeless vets. He said the measure adds another barrier to the men and women who served this country.

“You can package this however you want – a safety issue, an unsightly thing in Oklahoma City – but what this really boils down to is criminalizing people for being poor and struggling to survive,” Roark said.

The majority of the speakers opposed the measure, but some support it like Neighborhood Alliance Executive Director Georgie Rasco. She called it a safety issue.

“We do hear from people constantly about the safety issues of people standing in the median, and I do think that that’s exactly what this ordinance addresses,” Rasco said.

Millwood Superintendent Cecilia Robinson-Woods supports the measure. She said kids pass by panhandlers every day to get to school near Interstate 44 and North Martin Luther King Avenue.

“We don’t want to imagine what could happen if there is someone out there on drugs or mentally ill and my kids have to walk past them on the way home,” she said.

The final vote for the ordinance is set for October 13.

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