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(en) US, Phoenix, Upheaval* #2 - Who 's Killing the Homeless in Phoenix? by kb

Date Thu, 19 Jan 2006 10:40:59 +0200

The recent heatwave is blamed for
the deaths of over two dozen
homeless people, but even worse
heatwaves in the past killed none.
What has changed? The homeless
can no longer sleep in Phoenix
parks. In past heatwaves the home-
less could sleep in the relative cool-
ness of our city parks during the
heat of the day. They can no
longer. Without a cooler place to
spend the heat of the day, the
homeless become more and more
dehydrated, more and more debili-
tated, until death by exposure
takes them.
Stephanie Farwig,
assistant development
director of the Phoenix
Rescue Mission, told
Agencie France Presse:
"They [the homeless]
don't have the protec-
tion from the sun nor
the liquids that they
need... when the tem-
perature is 115°F, the
pavement is 130°F and
people's feet are
burned even through
their shoes."
An advocate for the
estimated 12,000-plus
homeless in Maricopa
County said the
answer is more shel-
ters, and alcohol-
and drug-recovery
programs -- not sleeping-bag ordi-
"There really isn't any place for
them to go," said Jerry Sandvig,
executive director of the Phoenix
Rescue Mission, a 52-year-old pro-
gram which shelters men, serves
meals and directs clients to jobs
and recovery programs.
A little history
In late November 2004, the
Phoenix City Council considered
an ordinance to ban "camping" in
Phoenix parks.
According to L.B. Scacewater,
acting director of the Phoenix
Parks and Recreation Department,
"It's disheartening for neighbors to
see people camped out and then
wonder, `Is it safe to send my chil-
dren there?' ... We want the parks
to be an attraction that people will
I don't think that a Leach
Buffington Scacewater is "dis-
heartened" over owning a home in
Scottsdale worth approximately
$300,000. According to the
Maricopa County Assesor's web-
site, there is a Leach Buffington
Scacewater living at the following
Did Mr. Scacewater have a bloody
hand in the killing of the home-
In early December 2004, the
Phoenix City Council voted eight
to one to ban camping in Phoenix
parks. Councilperson Michael
Johnson, a former peace officer,
was the sole vote against this cruel
and deadly law.
Commenting on this vote
against the lives of the home-
less, Vice Mayor Pegg y
Bilsten simply said, "Parents
are concerned with the
What's not "unknown" is
that there is a Peggy Bilsten
who owns a home with a pool
at the following address:
14623 N 25TH DRIVE
PHOENIX, AZ 85023.
The County Assessor's site
lists the property as having
1,881 square feet, and says a
comparable home sold for
$155,000 in 2003. Is Ms.
Bilsten another of the killers?
Tom Simplot is Phoenix
City Councilperson for
District 4. There is a Thomas
Simplot who owns a $287,500 home
listed on the Assesor's website; the
address is:
PHOENIX, AZ 85013.
With more than 2,000 square feet, it certainly
appears that this Thomas Simplot has enough space
to sleep. Councilperson Simplot denies turning his
back on the homeless; he says the ban applies to rich
people too! "Our recent action to ban daytime
camping in city parks should not be read as a city
turning its back on the homeless. The ordinance
applies to us all, and is long overdue."
Did Mr. Simplot have a hand in killing the home-
Mayor of Phoenix Phil Gordon said: "While a cer-
tain segment of us have benefited throughout the
country, a certain segment hasn't, and they're turn-
ing more and more to the streets."
Why then criminalize sleeping in the parks? There
are not near enough beds in the area homeless shel-
ters. Did Mayor Gordon look the other way while the
homeless were killed?
Middle class responsible too?
Jennie Johnson, a teacher, pointed to a homeless
couple and said "I don't think it's good for the chil-
dren to see that. But because we are downtown we
are so used to it. Our children see the homeless eat-
ing out of dumpsters."
On Christmas Day 2004, The Arizona Republic pub-
lished a letter praising the homeless ordinance. Here
is part of that letter:
Thank you to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and City
Councilman Tom Simplot for their actions on behalf of the
citizens of Phoenix regarding camping in the parks.
I live in central Phoenix, and we have had the same
group of people camping in the park for more than a year.
I don't think this can be called a situation where these
people have nowhere else to go. Surely after a year they
would figure out where a shelter is, or how to get a job...
Linda Remick, Phoenix
Is it fun to kick folks when they're down, Linda?
Did the contempt and scorn of middle-class peo-
ple help kill the homeless?
Who are the killers?
Some people have argued that L. B. Scacewater and
the entire Phoenix City Council except Mr. Johnson
are responsible for the deaths of the homeless.
Others would say that middle-class prejudices are to
blame. Are they the killers? Is there blood on their
Except where noted, all quotes are from the Arizona
Republic; all home addresses come from public records on the
Maricopa County Assessor's website,
* Journal of the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition

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