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August 8, 2004
NY Security Procedures Get Criticized For Displacing The Homeless

When securing an area for high-risk events, it is common practive to evict any loiterers, as terrorists or criminals can easily hide themselves among them. The Republican National Convention is no different, and since the venue itself sits on top of Penn Station -- a prime terrorist target at any time -- it makes sense that the FBI and other national-security agencies will clear the area of all but those who have a reason to be there.

Unfortunately, since this is the Republican convention, the media reports this basic security concept as a heartless blow to the homeless:

.W. Ballantine, a 77-year-old homeless man, already sleeps most nights in Penn Station and eats many of his meals in neighborhood soup kitchens. But Ballantine's life is about to get much harder now that the Republican National Convention is coming to Madison Square Garden, directly on top of the train station where he usually sleeps. Ballantine, and hundreds of other homeless people like him, will be moved out from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 so the convention can take place.

"They think homeless people are eyesores," Ballantine said. "They want to hide them so tourists don't see them." Security is already high in New York City, and homeless people worry that even tougher convention security will force them to the city's fringes far from the outreach workers trying to help them.

"When you lose people and they become fearful, you're not going to see them again," said Arnold S. Cohen, president and CEO of Partnership for the Homeless.

It's hard to say precisely how many homeless people sleep in midtown Manhattan, but a food pantry on West 31st Street serves 500 people a week. The Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen on West 28th Street serves roughly 1,200 people every day.

A Google search shows no media outlets ever raised the issue of clearing the homeless from around the Fleet Center, even though it would have been the exact same agencies following the exact same strategies for security. Not one mention. Why do you suppose that might be?

The war on terrorism and securing political events are serious business. Those who approach them with such studied partisanship reveal themselves to be unserious people. Normally, this would be a debating point for me, but since my tucchus will be squarely above Penn Station, I'd like the government to make it as secure as possible. The plain fact is that no one has the right to live in Penn Station, and overriding concerns of security necessitate that loiterers be cleared from the area.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 8, 2004 12:11 PM

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Tracked on August 8, 2004 8:38 PM

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