It’s cold and raining outside, you have no place to go, and the main shelter in town requires you to violate your religious beliefs in order to stay there. It is in context that the City of Eureka is putting local resident Dane Carr on trial for multiple camping tickets accrued earlier this year.
In a time of supposed financial woe and a $2.9 million county deficit, the City of Eureka has hired outside law firm Mitchell, Brisso, Delaney, Vrieze to prosecute Carr. If convicted, Carr faces jail time.
Carr’s criminal trial for the benign act of sleeping outside reminds us that it’s a struggle for many to survive the recent record-breaking low temperatures affecting Eureka. The last time it was this cold in 2011, several people froze to death sleeping outside.
But the Eureka Rescue Mission, Eureka’s largest and most prominent homeless shelter, requires participation in Christian prayers and services in order to eat meals and stay at the shelter. See this week’s excellent editorial in the Times-Standard on the hypocrisy of compulsory religious services at a homeless shelter
Mr. Carr argues that he would be excluded from services at the Eureka Rescue Mission if he were to be open about his sexual orientation and religious identity. With no job and no alternative shelters available, Mr. Carr has camped various places in Eureka out of necessity.Why is the city willing to spend money to prosecute homelessness rather than solve it? There is no safe legal place for many without homes to go. It is immoral and unacceptable to arrest people over and over for a problem they have no tools to fix. Eureka needs a sanctuary camp ground where people can go to be safe, sheltered from extreme weather, and access resources to improve their lives.
Trial continues Monday December 9 at 8:30 in Courtroom 2. Come witness the City’s misguided attempts to litigate a problem they should be actively working to solve.