Two activist groups held a rally
yesterday looking to gain support for their drive to move people into homes that have been foreclosed upon. The first attempt at publicity involved actual squatting but that incident ended
only a few days later. I found it odd that the police just watched as people essentially held a press conference saying, "Hey, here we are breaking the law!" But no complaints had been made.South District police Capt. Joe Balles and several other officers stood across the street and watched the press conference. He said the department enforces trespassing laws when complaints are made.
One issue here is whether housing is a human right. Let's say for the sake of argument that it is. But that doesn't mean that just anyone has a right to the duplex at 2918-2920 Turbot Drive. You may have a right to housing generally but not to any house you choose specifically.
So is housing a human right? Is health care? One thing these rights imply that other rights such as freedom of speech, the right to vote, the right to profess whatever religion you want, etc. don't is, in the words of Prof. Lester Hunt
, the right to the fruits of the labor of others. I think this is why such rhetoric rubs a lot of people the wrong way. When Emily Mills takes to her blog and exercises her right to free speech by proclaiming that health care is a human right, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. But if universal health care were to be enacted here, it would assuredly do the former. It's funny how when the smoking ban was being debated, many liberals said, "Your freedom ends where my nose begins" but, when it comes to health care and, for some, housing, their freedom unsurprisingly does not end where the wallets of others begin.
Aside from the issue of rights, I have to wonder if squatting is the best way to draw attention to the problem of homelessness. Are people who might be willing to donate money and/or time flocking to the cause or do quotes like the following from Z! Haukeness of Operation Welcome Home turn people off?"To have a fundamental transformations of land relationships, so the land is actually owned by the community, all of the land, and not owned by corporations and not owned by banks and, possibly, not owned by individuals," Haukeness said.
I picture Rik from The Young Ones here telling Vyvyan, "All property is theft!"