January 22, 2013 | Vol. 73 No. 26

Let the kids alone

I agree with the Letter to the editor several weeks ago (My First Amendment rights, Oct. 9, 2012).

Freedom of expression is sweeping in its meaning and application, including the right to “panhandle” under reasonable circumstances and to sit around and gather in public places.

Under our Constitution and its Bill of Rights, there are no second class people. Everyone enjoys, or at least is supposed to enjoy, the same basic rights and freedoms. Therefore, I am disgusted by Councilman Bruce Kraus’ campaign against the civil rights of young people who pass through South Side as they travel free all over the country.

Called “railroad kids” and other terms, they sit around resting, playing their guitars and sometimes passively ask for money with signs. I’ve never known them or heard of them aggressively asking passersby for money or bothering anyone.

What they do is well written freedom of expression protected by the First Amendment.

Councilman Kraus and the city Parking Authority claim pan-handling near machines involved in the transactions of money are forbidden. I recognize this as a reasonable limitation. However, Mr. Kraus and the Parking Authority are claiming that parking machines are transaction devices just like banking MAC machines; which is a distortion of the meaning of the law.

What I, as a Vietnam era veteran, find particularly offensive are the shoo-away signs at the Vietnam War memorial on the corner of the parking lot at East Carson and S.18th streets. That memorial honors the sacrifices of Americans who died supposedly to brig freedom to Vietnam and should not display signs whose intent is to violate the rights of harmless Americans just because Councilman Kraus doesn’t like the way they dress.

Joseph Forbes

South Side

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