The Ugly Laws in the 21st Century

Tiny - Posted on 02 July 2015

Editors Note: Heidy is a student-mentee in the Revolutionary Youth Media Education(RYME) summer program at POOR Magazine

The Ugly Laws In The 21st Century

By: Heidy


From the late 1860s until the 1970s, several American cities had ugly laws making it illegal for persons with "unsightly or disgusting" disabilities to appear in public. Some of these laws were called unsightly beggar ordinances. Better known as * The Ugly Laws.

They pretend it ever happened. The first appearance of the ugly laws were in San Francisco Ca, the Bay Area. Even thought they deny the ugly laws ever existed they're still evident in the Bay Area.

The Berkeley City Council is has proposed multiple example of modern day ugly laws which they call- "regulating behaviors in the streets of the city". To the oblivious person this seems like a great thing, the council is trying to make the streets safer. They don't realize how many people this law is screwing over.

A recent proposed ordinance which was heard at the city council meeting of June 30th plans is targeted for the homeless only. The proposal would ask the city manager to look into the possibility of implementing ordinances prohibiting unpermitted cooking on public sidewalks, panhandling within 10 feet of a parking pay station and deploying bedding on sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.. . It also includes recommendations to consider extending youth shelter hours beyond the winter months and ensure the availability of public restrooms. They are regulating the size of their belongings. The measurements are 16 in. x 18 in. which is ridiculous they're making it so small. This information is provided by Bob Offer-Westort from Side Walks Are For Everyone (S.A.F.E.)


Pauper Laws try to help poor people, but in reality it forces people to live in shelters. It works perfectly with the city ordinances. Since the city is building more shelters and prohibiting all of these things that poor people will be forced to go to the shelters, which just make the people who own it rich. It a perfect combination for the poverty pimps.


As a young Honduran migrant I'm concerned my people that are migrating and dont have a place to live will fall for this vicious cuycle of explotation.


(Post-script: the City Council meeting of June 30th was shut down by the people who, led by Mama Vivi T of POOR Magazine and hundreds of other angry Berkeley residents yelled SHAME and made it impossible for yet another anti-poor people law to be instituted in this so-called progressive city)


referece: *The Ugly Laws By Susan M. Schwek


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