‘Being homeless is not a crime’: Chapman students lead rally to support Orange County homeless population

About 30 Chapman students, faculty and community members attended a rally in the Attallah Piazza Oct. 24 to support the rights of Orange County’s homeless population. Photo by Jackie Cohen

Students lead rally to support county homeless population

About 30 students, faculty and Orange residents attended a rally in the Attallah Piazza to support the rights of homeless people and advocate for permanent supportive housing in Orange County.

The Oct. 24 rally made its way to the Orange City Council chambers, with ralliers holding signs that read, “Being homeless is not a crime,” “Where can they go?” and “No unjust eviction,” while chanting, “When homeless rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.”

“It was absolutely important to hold this rally and mobilize Chapman students to become engaged in homeless rights activism,” said senior political science major Brad West, who organized the rally. “It was for Chapman students to give a voice to the people in the riverbed.”

One of the items on the council’s agenda was an ordinance that would prohibit the act of “aggressive solicitation,” or when a solicitor “coerces, threatens, hounds or intimidates another.”

All the students, faculty and residents who attended the rally addressed the council to oppose the ordinance, but the council unanimously approved the first reading. If the second reading is approved at the Nov. 14 meeting, it will take effect in the next 30 days.

“We made our voices heard. Nobody said democracy was a convenient process,” said Juan Bustillo, a junior political science and screenwriting major who attended the rally. “I would call it a success overall, even though we didn’t get what we wanted.”

The turnout for the rally was higher than the protest against homeless displacement at the Santa Ana Civic Center that West and senior peace studies and political science major Atty McLellan organized in February, West said. Ten people, four of whom were Chapman students, attended the protest last February.

“Nobody said democracy was a convenient process.”

“I was more impressed by, not necessarily the quantity, but the quality of the people that came out,” West said. “Almost everyone there marched down the street (to the city council meeting) and waited three hours to speak for three minutes.”

It’s especially important for Chapman students to engage in this issue, said Daniel Espiritu, a sophomore political science major who attended the rally and spoke at the city council meeting.

“We don’t all necessarily come from affluent positions, but the fact that we’re at a university does show that we have a lot of privilege,” Espiritu told The Panther. “We need to be using that privilege to speak up for people who don’t have the means of coming down here and fighting for themselves.”

Richard Faulkner, a professor at the Dale E. Fowler School of Law and one of the guest speakers during the rally, spoke about the importance of Chapman students getting involved.

Richard Faulkner, the director of academic achievement at the Dale E. Fowler School of Law, addressed students before the city council meeting Oct. 24. Photo by Jackie Cohen

“College students are citizens like everyone else. It’s important for all of us to get involved. This really is something where everyone can make a difference for these most vulnerable people, and that starts with college students,” Faulkner told The Panther.

Nika Darrin, a senior kinesiology and peace studies major who attended the rally, studied abroad in South Africa last semester, where she learned a lot about poverty and homelessness issues firsthand, she said.

“I thought this rally would be a good place to go and voice my opinion and at least try to make a difference,” she said.

Kendra Klint, a junior sociology major, also attended the rally.

“Homelessness is a really prevalent issue in our community. It’s right in our backyard,” she said. “I think it’s important that we stand up for people that don’t have the means to do it themselves.”

Brad West, a senior political science major, was one of the organizers for the rally in the Attallah Piazza before the Oct. 24 city council meeting. Photo by Jackie Cohen

14 Comments

  • Why do these privileged students feel that it is their duty to decide what is better for these homeless people? I’m guessing these students think that it is wrong to protect a fetus because they don’t have a say in the matter, but they do have a say in the matter when it comes to homeless people?

    Oh please. Get off your high horse. Some of these homeless people are truly in tough times and want to get out, but the majority chose this lifestyle and are happy living off of substances instead of living a life of substance.

    • These students actually go in to the riverbed and work closely with the homeless population in Orange. They take their concerns and input into account. Most of these people don’t have a voice, but “privileged” students do. I also don’t remember anyone in the article arguing over abortion. A lot of groups helping these people are church groups who are pro-life in every sense so I don’t think that’s a relevant point. The city is trying to criminalize homelessness, which is just plain stupid. You can’t fine people without money and throwing them in jail would just be like setting up a homeless shelter except jails are more expensive and it would take away their freedom.

    • You’re making a ton of assumptions about the homeless population of Orange County. Why don’t you actually do your research and connect with the community instead of trashing other people’s activism when there are students on this campus that are trying to improve people’s lives?

      What are YOU doing to help the people in the riverbed? By the way, less than 10% of homeless people in Orange County are drug addicts, so get your facts straight.

    • So we shouldn’t speak in support of homeless people because a few of them may choose to be homeless? About 10% of Orange’s homeless population suffers from substance addiction, so they definitely aren’t a majority. However, homeless people regardless of what addictions or other afflictions they face deserve to be represented on the city level, which they often can’t do for themselves. That’s why we rallied. We went to last night’s City Council meeting to oppose Ordinance 05-17, which is supposed to be against aggressive solicitation but that could be interpreted to charge people begging on the streets for making others uncomfortable rather than for committing crimes. Here’s the text of the ordinance, which passed with full support of the council and mayor, in case you want to write from an informed position on the issue. http://www.cityoforange.org/documentcenter/view/5312

    • Milk Box, I’m curious as to what their proposal is to solve this solution, and who exactly will pay for it. Any thoughts?

      • Juice Box Man, you know they will have the local government pay for it, making the taxed citizens pay for the homeless’ welfare. Why don’t the students pay? Oh, right, because they are jobless and would rather spend their time holding signs?

        10% on substance addiction…ridiculous. At least 60% of the students are on substance or alcohol addiction. The average homeless person makes $150 a day from doing nothing, so maybe they’ll try to get a job, even the lowest of jobs, if they want to get out of their situations.

        I’m all for charity, but only for those who can’t help themselves. And I mean who actually can’t help themselves, not those who think they can’t.

      • It’s not as if they live in a country where a small, poor, oppressed Irish boy could skip school and become the richest man in the world. Oh, wait…

        There are state jobs that require no skill and provide housing. One example would be the California Conservation Corps. Instead of enabling, why don’t we spread awareness of jobs like the CCC, where homeless people cannot only get housing and food, but ALSO be productive and not a burden to society?

        • You know they won’t click on that link. It’s all a Trumpian conspiracy to bring about the downfall of the homeless regime.

          God forbid someone actually do something. What does raising awareness do besides raise awareness, which is intangible?

          • If you all are done commenting back and forth with each other just complimenting each other on how knowledgeable you are without doing research on the actual proposals by these students…

            The housing-first model has been a great success in several areas that implemented it. Obviously, each community needs its own resources but I believe these students are advocating for making sure these people are secure where they are so they can then go out and get a job. That’s a pretty tough task when you don’t have a mailing address, are constantly harassed by police, and don’t have access to adequate medical care to meet your needs. Unfortunately the sheriff’s office idea of “help” is pushing them out of their temporary shelters they’ve built for themselves, so of course they aren’t going to take their “help”. At least acknowledge they are trying to help these people instead of making this is a Trump v. liberal thing.

          • I dunno, speaking to Mr. Moderate Horse below. Are they actually physically trying to help them, or just “advocating?”

            Because it takes real action to get something done, not holding signs of solidarity.

          • I’m glad you asked what they are actually doing:
            They passed out water to them when it was super hot, gave them hospital masks during the fire so they didn’t have to inhale smoke, attend city hall meetings to advocate for them, and talk with law enforcement about how to better handle the homeless population all while holding down a job and balancing their schoolwork. It’s really quite impressive.

            The signs are meant to draw attention to the problem and the fact you’re on this thread right now, learning from these comments, means they were successful!

  • I totally agree that the Homeless have “RIGHTS”, most of them were like you and me, there are so many reasons as to why they are homeless. I for one will start educating myself more and use tools that will hopefully somehow help in my small way, would like to do my part in putting out the word and be active in making a difference for Homeless too. Oh by the way, I just retired at my “young” 65yrs…LOL, but I can tell you this it has been a passion for me for a number of years now and I’m as active as ever!

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