It’s an unfortunate reality in any urban center that there are homeless. People end up homeless for a wide variety of reasons… loss of employment, underemployment, mental illness, family breakdown. And the amount of thought the average citizen gives ‘the homeless’ is negligible. Aside from the occasional donation to a food drive or some over administrated charity, little is done. They live on the edges of society, frequently a subject of scorn and derision, or misplaced and misspent pity.
And Bob forbid they be a minority, especially native.
I recently blogged about surveillance in Calgary and my concerns, finishing with
I want to know I can take a walk with my wife, and stop and kiss her in a doorway or under a tree, without some bureaucrat leering over our shoulder.
It appears I’m already far too late. I was taking some shots of the Langevin Bridge, and had spotted a native couple on the bridge.
They were holding hands, and making frequent stops to whisper to one another and kiss against the railing. I moved to a different spot to shoot something else and leave them some privacy, when a male voice came loud and clear over a loudspeaker…
“You are under live video surveillance! Take your activity off the bridge!”
Uhm, what? No kissing on the bridge? Or just no kissing for homeless natives…
To add to the conundrum, they are in a poor position to challenge the intrusion. Even assuming they had the inclination to flip off the anonymous State voyeur, it would have resulted in a Calgary Police officer being dispatched to the bridge. Being homeless, they don’t have the resources to fight being hustled off the bridge or spuriously arrested on something unrelated.
This is just the surface though. It’s a rare moment when a homeless person can spare a moment from day to day survival and getting by to carry on something so basic as a relationship. That they are homeless denies them the privacy and dignity to carry on their romance anywhere but in public, whether in plain view or hiding in some out of the way spot.
That the State, acting on our behalf, chooses to deny them even these simple acts of humanity is barbarous. It’s bad enough they are chased out of businesses for wanting to use their washrooms, forced to duck behind bushes and dumpsters in broad daylight and freezing blizzards. To deny them even a chance at a quiet walk on a bridge is inhuman.
This particular couple moved off the bridge to sit on one of the abutments at the rivers edge to enjoy each others company.