Assured by the City and County of Denver (CCD) to be a compassionate initiative, the Unauthorized Camping Ordinance (UCO) enacted in May 2012 has resulted in a form of social action that contradicts the notion of compassion. For example, in opposition to its presentation as an measure intended to benefit homeless persons, violation can result in citation, fines, arrest, and incarceration. Using critical discourse analysis, the rhetoric of place, legal and political history, communication studies, and stigma theory, my study examines aspects of the UCO's and CCD's contradictory disregard of Denver's unhoused residents, suggesting that the ordinance imposes disadvantages that exceed the advantages promised by the CCD. Taken at face value, the UCO stipulates that violators must be referred to services. In actuality, rather than connecting homeless people with these services, the outworking of the ordinance has resulted the routinized utterance of the phrase "move along" by Denver police officers. In stark contrast to compassion, "move along" signals to Denver's unhoused residents that they are unwelcome in Denver. Moreover, the ordinance and officials of the CCD incorrectly imply that there is sufficient and adequate shelter space for Denver's unhoused residents to inhabit. This conveys to the public that resolving the issue of homelessness in Denver rests upon whether homeless persons unquestioningly comply with the ordinance and inhabit shelters. On top of this, evidence suggests that some homeless persons reasonably decide against inhabiting such shelters. In spite of their decision, the CCD continues to enforce an ordinance that, by and large, excludes and obscures homeless persons from public view, all the while calling the measure an act of "compassion." The end result is the disaffiliation, displacement, and dehumanization of Denver's homeless persons, encouraging their social exclusion and potentially justifying hate crimes against them. The contradictory disregard of the UCO and the CCD alike significantly limits and deteriorates the political and physical places allotted to homeless people, diminishing connections to the social power and capital they need to cultivate and maintain stable living.
|Commitee:||Robinson, Anthony R., Tompkins, Phillip K.|
|School:||University of Colorado at Denver|
|School Location:||United States -- Colorado|
|Source:||MAI 53/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Law, Communication, Rhetoric|
|Keywords:||Anti-homeless legislation, Homeless shelters, Homelessness, Stigma, Unauthorized camping|
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