Notorious is a word frequently used when describing comic book villains. One can also find it in the Code of Civil Procedure in reference to concepts underlying adverse possession, which means to reside on land that is not legally one's own.
The state of Alaska has formed policies regarding squatters based upon the needs and desires of the public. Law enforcement carries out these policies.
Squatting takes on a different feeling when referring to the homeless and the homeless camps, yet in truth the definition applies directly to them.
As an Alaskan and one full of compassion for the homeless, I would not stick the term "notorious" with the homeless. "Notorious" does, however, describe in full the ACLU. The ACLU is unfavorably known for accomplishing little in the way of actual human kindness and compassion. The ACLU's only purpose is to inform the public that it will be filing a lawsuit. They exist to take contributors money and spend it on lawsuits, according to their own agenda. They exist to waste Alaskan's time, effort and strength on menial suits, while the rest of us try our damnedest to make a true difference in our communities.
The article written by Mary Pemberton of the Associated Press last week, titled "Alaska ACLU files Lawsuit over homeless camp raids," would have her readers think the Anchorage Police Department is a bunch of redneck yahoos running through the woods, wreaking havoc on the poor, misinformed homeless.
Anchorage Police can rest assured knowing that Google is there to provide a curious citizen with an alternative viewpoint. A quick Google search on "Veterans Ridge, Anchorage" brings up Lisa Demer's Anchorage Daily News article, "Mountain View homeless camp cleared out," where it clearly states that this previous homeless camp as referred to by Ms. Pemberton was a place of rampant crime, criminal hideout, and haphazard human waste. I, for one, am surprised everything in it, save valuable life, was not burned to the ground.
Don't get me wrong. The current homeless situation is a big problem that must be solved and soon, but such "homeless camps" could bring about wide-scale disease and exceedingly rampant disorder, which our police may find more than challenging to contain if continued to percolate.
Yet, enter again the ACLU, who's primary concern is for the tents and sleeping bags. The occupants of Veteran's Ridge were given a little more than four days to evacuate. In all their care for human life and safety, where was the ACLU when the sleeping bags were stuffed into garbage bags? Where was the ACLU when the homeless of Anchorage had to relocate? Where is the ACLU while the homeless need bread, shelter, clothes and medical care on a daily basis?
Why is it the ACLU can only be seen when they have a statement to make, yet no actual help to give? It was Achorage's officials, cleanup workers, police volunteers, soup kitchen workers, alcoholism experts and community members who showed up to help the homeless; the same people who continually try to help the homeless day after day in our respective communities.
With regard to the homeless, some can be helped and some refuse to be helped. As a society, we try to create as many solutions as our time, pocketbooks and ability allow. Some work harder toward this than others, but in truth, how much effort must we put into this dilemma when it remains an uphill battle? We can only do so much. There are other problems to solve in our communities as well. If help is needed and wanted, help can still be found.
The State of Alaska Policy AS 38.04.005 exists to keep the use of public land "consistent with the public interest," to consider the use of future generations and to factor in the "well-being" of all Alaska citizens and their society. In 2001, the action to evict squatters on state land and the negotiation of the removal of squatters and their property was considered a major accomplishment by former Gov. Tony Knowles and the Department of Law and Natural Resources (See SOA FY2003 Governor's Operating Budget). Considering this, why would the ACLU even think it had grounds for a suit?
It will not be the ACLU who solves the homeless problem. It will be the good people of the Alaska who are working with the homeless, even though the ACLU continues to put itself in our way.
Christina D. Morris is a third generation Alaskan who resides in Juneau.