The Colorado Springs Mayor, City Attorney, City Council, and The Gazette are currently advocating for a proposal that would make solicitation illegal in various parts of the city. Or, in other words, they are attempting to legislate our behavior and choices.
They have targeted the locations where our community’s homeless tend to reside – the downtown area and the west side of the city – in order to prevent them from asking for a little money, food, or a blanket in the winter time. Their argument depends upon the belief that homeless people detract from our city’s aesthetic value, safety, and economic potential.
The City of Colorado Springs has shown its willingness to do whatever it takes to push out the indigent members of the community – even if its actions raise questions of civil rights and responsibilities.
The Colorado College Student Government Association (CCSGA) is very concerned about several of these recent initiatives. In the past two years, we have witnessed our city take extraordinary measures that made life increasingly difficult for our most vulnerable demographic, the homeless.
We have witnessed a ban on camping in public places, a drastic reduction in vital municipal services (including the end of the FREX bus service to Denver), the installation of security cameras downtown, and now this – an attempt to restrain free speech by criminalizing solicitation.
The CCSGA supports initiatives that aim to further strengthen and build our community, and it is evident that this piece of legislation will only further divide it along socio-economic and ideological lines. Regardless of the specific language of the proposal, we view this as a continuation of a political effort to marginalize community members who do not meet some arbitrary standards of social fluency.
The Colorado Springs Attorney and former counsel to Colorado College, Chris Melcher, is in control of the development of the legislation, and claims that the language used to define “solicitation” will be able to withstand any legal challenges. It is therefore absolutely vital that the City Council does not approve this ordinance.
The CCSGA is asking all members of the Colorado College community to immediately write letters to the City Attorney, City Council members, and the mayor’s office discouraging them from continuing this initiative. Additionally, we ask that you write letters to the editors of The Gazette demanding fair and balanced coverage of the issue.
Most importantly, the proposed ordinance will be unveiled to the public on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 1 p.m. on the third floor of City Hall.
This is the only day that the public has a forum for commentary, as the Council will be voting on the measure the same day. Thus, it is imperative that Colorado College students, staff, faculty, and supporters join the CCSGA at this meeting and demand that the City Council discards this rotten ordinance. The complete schedule of the proceedings is available on the city’s website, Springsgov.com.
We hope that you will consider this course of action and reflect on the state of the city that Colorado College calls home. We do not want to live in a place that continually shows that it has little regard for the dignity and value of its poverty-stricken members. Being poor is not a crime. Join the CCSGA in opposing this ordinance.