Pensacola bans sheltering from weather with blankets or newspapers


Welcome to Florida, where being poor is a crime.

I guess the idea is to make life so crappy for the homeless that they move to Georgia or Alabama?


I think Anatole France had something to say about that.


Yes the purpose is to drive them away. In some places it is illegal to feed the homeless. GO AWAY, YOU ARE NOT WANTED HERE! This is pitiful behavior by the local government. Are the homeless not human, if you prick them do they not bleed?


No, the ordinance does not make "criminals out of anyone who holds a newspaper over her head in the rain."

The anti-camping ordinance is appalling in many ways, not least of which that it criminalizes sleeping outdoors with blankets. Staying warm is a life and death issue, so there are lots of sound reasons to be against the ordinance that criminalizes the homeless keeping warm while sleeping. However, it most certainly does not ban covering your head with a newspaper. That does not fit the ordinance’s definition which is specifically about sleeping over or under a bedroll, cardboard or newspapers. Accuracy in language and news reporting matter.

Sec. 8-1-22 Camping prohibited; exceptions

(1) For purposes of this section “camping” is defined as:

(a) Cooking over an open flame or fire out-of-doors; or

(b) Bathing in public for purposes of personal hygiene; or

© Sleeping out-of-doors under one of the following circumstances:

(i) Adjacent to or inside a tent or sleeping bag, or

(ii) Atop and/or covered by materials such as a bedroll, cardboard, newspapers, or

(iii) Inside some form of temporary shelter

[emphasis added]

It took me all of a few seconds to follow the link in the OP through to the source and find this.


Assuming I’m reading this law correctly (Here), this only applies to sleeping persons.

Not that I agree with the law, but it appears it would NOT penalize those “normal people” holding a newspaper over their head at the bus stop.

EDIT: Skeptic beat me to it.

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Corrected according to the latest NYT style guide:

It took [you] all of a few “seconds” to follow the “link” in the OP through to the “source” and find this.


It seems unlikely that anyone holding a newspaper over their head will be prosecuted under this law, although it is Florida, so I wouldn’t entirely rule out the possibility.

In all seriousness I don’t understand those who think the way to deal with homelessness is to criminalize it. In my city there’s a very good program that allows the homeless to sell a local newspaper that’s written by homeless people about the issues they face. Vendors stand on street corners and each issue is $1. It’s a great program that gives many homeless people an income and gives some of them a means to find a place to live and even better employment. And yet some of the wealthier sections of town have tried to crack down on the paper sales using obscure and rarely enforced laws.

The problem is homelessness doesn’t disappear if it’s made invisible.


But if you pass enough laws forbidding various components of being homeless, you can get it to move to the next town over which is almost as good!

(c) Sleeping out-of-doors under one of the following circumstances: (i) Adjacent to or inside a tent or sleeping bag, or (ii) Atop and/or covered by materials such as a bedroll, cardboard, newspapers, or (iii) Inside some form of temporary shelter

Is a “bedroll” still a bedroll when it is unrolled and used?


In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread


It’s not cruel enough. At the moment if you break the camping law you might be arrested and accidentally receive shelter inside a police station, which is clearly not the intent of the legislators. It’s unlikely that the illegal campers have assets worth chasing - We need to punish the homeless without inadvertently helping them or allowing them representation:

“The penalty for camping in contravention to city bylaw 8-122 shall involve the illegal camper and any illegal camping materials being drenched with cold water by the city fire department, to extinguish any possible fire hazards associated with the illegal camp site. Illegal camping materials shall then be confiscated.”


My parents tell me that they accidentally pitched a tent in front of police station on their honeymoon–something about having to move camp late at night–, and got drenched when the sprinklers came on in the morning,

When they outlaw blankets, only outlaws will have blankets!

Of course, this argument is true. It’s a tautology.


When they outlaw tautologies, only those who think will be outlaws… Florida should still be safe


“Pitching a tent,” huh huh. Happened on my honeymoon, too!


I for one welcome Police Sweep-and-Clear operations of BBQ’s and Tailgate parties… serves those filthy sub-human ‘meat eaters’ right!


Cory does have a habit of jumping to conclusions for the point of exaggerating outrage. As if this law isn’t already absurd, abusive and outrageous enough.


Hmm, perhaps we need to start collecting insulated coveralls and sending them down to Pensacola? Got any old Carhartts collecting dust?
Cut a hole in a blanket – now it’s a poncho (paint a political message on the poncho for good measure).

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It’s Florida! I don’t see why all of the homeless don’t just walk out to see and live with the mermaids.