SLIDELL, La. — Is it an important discussion or just public shaming? Police in Slidell, Louisiana, are raising eyebrows with a controversial Facebook post about homelessness.
The Slidell Police Department posted about the arrest of Franklin Jones, 59, on May 21.
Jones had been begging for money near a freeway, which is legal, police said. But a woman called police, saying she had seen him stumble into the street and urinate on the side of the road, according to officials. He was arrested and accused of public urination and intoxication, police said.
The next day, police posted on Facebook that they had found $800 in the man’s pockets.
In the lengthy post, police said Jones has been offered jobs but “chooses not to work.” The department went on to discuss homelessness and the flaws in the common ways of responding to transients – arresting them, offering them help or leaving them alone.
Slidell Police does their best to address these issues by following the letter of the law and ensuring that no one’s rights are violated. There is no easy solution to this problem, and quite frankly, it is a much bigger and deeper issue than a strictly a police matter,” the post said.
Many Facebook users responded in support of police.
“Thank you for posting. I’m not surprised at the amount of money beggars make. They thrive off of empathy from the naive. I just think they should pay taxes on it. I’m sure some of those same people, because they are homeless, or claim to make not income also hit up federal or state funds. So we’ve already paid them through our hardworking taxes. Quit giving money to folks that aren’t willing to work for it!” wrote one woman.
“Thank you for posting this. You are absolutely correct, this issue goes beyond police issues. We need better mental health services available to these people. And, citizens need to stop giving them money. It sounds harsh but if the well runs dry they may take their panhandling elsewhere,” another commenter wrote.
But critics blasted officers, accusing them of publicly shaming Jones and making him a target.
“ACLU Louisiana and ACLU Nationwide are being notified of this. Public ‘shaming’ I’m sure, is cruel and unusual punishment, especially since there was no actual crime committed in collecting money. The facts that this man is homeless, his life circumstances, has nothing to do with the crime committed,” another person wrote on Facebook.