Sometimes a seemingly simple and straightforward project yields deep results. In one of our more successful campaigns students planned and executed a demonstration on Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati to raise awareness that “Homelessness Is Not a Crime.” Based upon research the students did from around the country and within Cincinnati, the students wanted to bring attention to how homeless people are often targeted for “crimes” such as loitering, littering, sitting on the sidewalk, etc.
Students designed t-shirts with a logo criticizing the ways homelessness and criminality have merged in the public mindset, passed out information and statistics about homelessness, and tried to engage citizens in conversation.
What many experienced on the Square was a lesson in itself. As one student put it: I thought our Fountain Square demonstration about the criminalization of homelessness was instructive. I could not believe the number of business-persons who did not show any sense of care towards our demonstration. I do not know how these people can turn a blind eye towards problems happening right outside of their corner offices. The only people I could get to talk to me were those who actually lived in the city.
Staff from Cincinnati Beacon and the homeless newspaper StreetVibes joined us in our engagement with the public.