Letters to the Editor

A duty to help

I was troubled by Bill McEwen's column [Oct. 19] on the American Civil Liberties Union suit filed against the city on behalf of homeless people forced to vacate an encampment on E Street.

Mr. McEwen refers to the camp as "dirty, dangerous and drug-infested." He might be interested to learn that there are many houses and apartments in Fresno that fit this description. However, I do not see these slum units being bulldozed with people's possessions inside.

What is the difference? Tenants in housing units are complying with social norms by paying rent to someone and staying out of sight from passing traffic. The city just miscalculated by not figuring competent attorneys could be induced to defend these people's rights.

Mr. McEwen endorses the statement of a policeman that helping the homeless with food and clothing is a big mistake and that the only way out for the homeless is through a shelter where they can "learn rules." What about those who don't subscribe to the religious requirements of these shelters? Doesn't our society as a whole have any duty to help these people?

Jeffrey W. Eisinger

Fresno

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