The Ugly Laws- The History of the Criminalization of the poor


root - Posted on 04 December 2009


When: July 14th 2009

Where: Modern Times Bookstore SF 888 Valencia St. St cross St is 19th

Time: 7pm

Co-Sponsored by POOR Magazine & Coalition On Homelessness of San Francisco.

by Staff Writer

On July 9th 1867 the San Francisco City Council approved the first known ugly law: "Any person who is diseased, maimed, mutilated, or in any way deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object... shall not...expose himself to public view." These ordinances spread throughout the United States. The last known arrest was in 1974. In _The Ugly Laws_ English professor Susan Schweik, co-director of UC Berkeley's disabilities studies program, discusses the origins and consequences of these nineteenth century unsightly beggar ordinances, showing how their dynamics--harsh policing, systematized suspicion, and structural and institutional repulsion of poor disabled people-persist into the present.

Schweik will read from the book and participate on a panel with Lisa “Tiny” Garcia of Poor Magazine and Bob Offer Westort from the Civil Rights Dept. of the Coalition On Homelessness to discuss current city policies toward people who are houseless. In addition, The Po Poets will share their scholarship through political poetry around the issue of criminalizing the poor today.

"Schweik draws on a deep index of resources, from legal proceedings to out-of-print books, to tell the story of individuals long lost to history." (Publisher's Weekly)

“Schweik delivers a compelling and insightful examination of disability norms, municipal law, and American culture . . .. She gives voice to the fascinating stories of the unsightly, the alienated, and the excluded. A valuable contribution for anyone interested in disability theory, poverty law and policy, and social history." Paul Steven Miller

Susan Schweik is Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities and a recent recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence. A former Presidential Chair in Undergraduate Education for Disability Studies at U.C. Berkeley, she has been involved with the development of disability studies at Berkeley for nine years. She was co-coordinator of the Ed Roberts Fellowships in Disability Studies post-doctoral program at Berkeley (coordinated by the Institute for Urban and Regional Development).

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