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Protests begin over Las Vegas homelessness ordinance

Posted at 12:18 PM, Oct 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-02 15:50:57-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — An ordinance introduced at Las Vegas City Council Wednesday would criminalize sitting, lying, or camping on public right-of-ways in several sections of the city.

The ordinance gives police officers the power to approach anyone camping in public right-of-ways and tell them to go to a nearby homeless shelter, move to a different area, or face arrest.

In a statement, the council said the ordinance was designed to improve sanitation in Las Vegas and direct the homeless population to valuable services.

A group of protesters gathered outside the meeting to share their displeasure at the ordinance.

Wesley Juhl, ACLU Nevada communications manager, said the ordinance was cruel and ineffective in addressing homelessness.

"There are difficulties posed with having these homeless encampments," Juhl said, "but I think the city needs to join the county in moving toward a housing first policy. Something like this just seems like a jail first policy."

Anyone who refuses to move could be charged with a misdemeanor carrying a potential penalty of $1,000 and six months in jail.

The first public comment on the ordinance will be Oct. 14 at the Recommending Committee Meeting.