LAS VEGAS — A proposed ordinance to criminalize camping or sleeping on downtown streets when beds are available at established shelters passed Wednesday night against a backdrop of protests in and around city hall.
Protesters flooded the Las Vegas City Council chambers with signs reading "Poverty is not crime" and "Eat the rich," while others led led chants of disapproval aimed at Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who sponsored the bill, and council members.
"Housing not handcuffs! Housing not handcuffs! ... Hey hey, ho ho — the war on the poor has got to go!” they yelled.
None of it swayed the council, which voted 5-2 in favor of the law. The measure will apply to the city’s downtown urban core, not the Las Vegas Strip, which is overseen by a different jurisdiction.
“This is flawed but it is a start,” Goodman said, noting Las Vegas’ economy relies on its image as an attractive international tourist attraction.“We have been having these conversations for 20 years, and we must have results.”
A line of people waiting to comment on the ordinance wrapped around the chambers. Before the first comment, Goodman warned the crowd that anyone speaking out in the audience risked being kicked out of the meeting.
“You can’t hear me if you keep screaming," Goodman said, but yelling continued in the crowd. "Excuse me, let's try to have some manners."