Oklahoma City Council Advances Median Ordinance

Sep 29, 2015

The Oklahoma City Council advances an ordinance to ban everyone from medians not just panhandlers.

The council heard from several citizens opposed to the measure like Derrek Jump, a veteran who advocates for homeless vets. Jump says he’s opposed to the idea of fining and jailing our poorest citizens.

"I think what it boils down to is extra revenue for our great city and the fact that we're willing to create revenue off the backs of our homeless population is absolutely reprehensible," says Jump.

Supporters of the measure were in the minority, but no less passionate. Millwood Superintendent Cecilia Robinson-Woods says everyday kids pass by panhandlers to get to school near I-44 and Martin Luther King Avenue.

"We don't want to imagine what could happen if there's someone out there on drugs or mentally ill and my kids have to walk past them on the way home," says Robinson-Woods.

Other supporters, like Neighborhood Alliance Executive Director Georgie Rasco, says it’s a safety issue.

"We do hear from people constantly about the safety issues of people standing in a median and I do think that's exactly what this ordinace addresses," says Rasco.

Opponents of the measure included people who work for the Fill the Boot project, the Homeless Alliance and the Curbside Chronicle, a newspaper sold by homeless individuals.

Disabled combat veteran John Roark ,who works with homeless vets, says the measure adds another barrier to the men and women who served this country.

"You can package this however you want—a safety issue, an unslightly thing in Oklahoma City—but what this really boils down to is criminalizing people for being poor and struggling to survive," says Roark.

A final vote for the ordinance is set for October 13.