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Posts tagged: downtown spokane

Sit-lie protest draws few

Only two people actually sat at today's protest against Spokane's sit-lie ordinance, though one was in a wheelchair. The only other two protesters stood outside downtown's Spokane Regional Business Center to talk about why they believed the law targets the homeless.

The law in question, which has been in place for less than a year, makes it illegal to sit or lie downtown most hours of the day. Sitting on fixtures or planters is also illegal. 

“I think it's unfair,” said Mara Spitzer, 54, who has been in a wheelchair for a few weeks due to a broken foot. “They just don't want a certain looking population downtown.”

Rick Bocook, 57, a downtown fixture himself known as “Harpman Hatter,” has dealt with the shifting laws downtown for years, not just as a homeless advocate, but also as a street musician.

“They say (the sit-lie ordinance) doesn't target the homeless, but it does,” Bocook said.

As the protesters mingled in the shade, two police officers on bicycles rode by on the sidewalk and gave them a word of advice.

“Try to stay hydrated, guys,” one cop said. 

Despite such niceties, Hans Crawford, 42, said he's seen the homeless mistreated by officers for violating the law. One particular incident, he said, involved three squad cars and a man in a wheelchair.

“They were just screaming at him,” Crawford said. “I guarantee you if he was wearing a three-piece suit, they wouldn't have bothered him.” 

The protests are scheduled to take place every week, but one of the organizers said they're not always attended by just four people.

“Sometimes there's just one or two of us,” said Rebennah Black, 39. “Sometimes there are 20.”

“Big Brother” arrives downtown, wants your quarters

Over the last month or so, high tech “smart” parking meters have appeared in downtown Spokane, equipped with coin slots and credit card readers.

But yesterday, workers began installing sensors that will detect when a car comes and goes, zeroing out the meter when it leaves and beginning a countdown when it parks. Though the technology will also allow people to add a few extra minutes from afar via a smartphone app, the sensors have caused a stir among parkers.

In an earlier story, two members of the City Council referred to the sensor technology as “Big Brother,” but both said they supported the new meters.

The sensors don't look like much. They're just simple grey boxes strapped to the meter's post. But parkers beware: They're watching you. 

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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