Police in Slidell, LA took the path of despicable recently when they arrested a homeless man for public intoxication and suspicion of public urination. He also allegedly stole a shopping cart, though he wasn’t charged with that crime.
Franklin Jones, 59, became a holier than thou police department’s whipping post when they then decided to use him as an example of the “homeless problem” in their town.
Jones is a panhandler, which isn’t illegal in Louisiana. Obviously the man has problems, but the public being willing to give him a helping hand isn’t something the police have control over, nor should they.
That didn’t stop them from climbing onto their soapbox and publicly shaming a man for doing nothing wrong. In a lengthy Facebook post, police posted a diatribe of ignorance about the homeless issue in Slidell. The post, which immediately sparked controversy, has since been removed.
Unfortunately for the Slidell police, the internet is written in ink, and most of the post was preserved in print:
Transients, also known as beggars or homeless, are often a hot topic of debate for Slidell residents. There are people who feel these individuals all need to be arrested. Some feel they should offered help. Some feel we should just leave them alone.
Their job as police is to protect and serve the public and enforce the law. While Jones may have been deserving of arrest for his actions, his social standing is of no concern to police, nor is the money he has in his pockets. That didn’t stop them from passing judgement on a man without any mention of his background or why he’s in the situation he’s in.
The post continued:
Mr. Jones has been begging for money at the intersection of Gause and Interstate 10 for well over a year. Mr. Jones has been offered a job on multiple occasions, but chooses not to work because he makes a better living by begging people for money.
The assumption that Jones’ reasoning for not taking a job because he can make more money “begging” is incredibly shallow and crass. Do the police seriously believe Jones was offered a viable position somewhere or is it more likely he was offered to make five bucks for an hour of trash removal or yard work? Regardless, Jones has the right to live his life the way he chooses and yes, for many people, homelessness is a choice.
The police went on with the shaming of this man by posting his picture (notice that at least two police vehicles were required to apprehend this dangerous criminal), along with a picture of the cash he had on his person:
The post continued:
We continue to offer help, but when you can make $800 in less than a week by ‘begging’, some people say, ‘Why get a real job?’ We’ve found jobs for people. We’ve offered assistance by bringing some of these individuals to rehab facilities. Bottom line is, it’s up to the individual person if they want help or not. All we can do is guide them in the right direction. We can’t force people to do things.
How noble. So noble the posts were removed.
The money Jones had on him is more than likely all the man has. Perhaps he doesn’t trust banks. Maybe he’s saving for an apartment. No matter what the reasoning, Jones is a private citizen protected from cruel and unusual punishment like everyone else. Collecting money from generous people isn’t against the law. As a matter of fact, most conservatives will tell you they’d rather see someone like Jones being given charity than on public assistance, because their greed dictates that others help the poor while they keep every penny they’ve ever earned.
That too is a right. Maybe the police should spend some time and money shaming them.
Featured image via Slidell Police Department via Rare