Yesterday I received the above letter. It is one of at least a dozen I have received in the last three years. These letters are always addressed to “The Legal Occupier,” which I find overly familiar. Only my closest friends call me “The Legal Occupier.”
Here is an earlier one:
There are two things it did not mention, despite its bullying, threatening tone:
1) The threat of “a visit” means nothing, because they have no right to enter your premises without a warrant or an invitation.
2) They will not have a warrant, because they are not police. They are not even the BBC; they are a private company hired by the BBC to intimidate people.
Several times, after receiving such letters, I have written to them: “You are not welcome to visit, and have no legal right to insist on doing so. If you do, I will file a lawsuit for trespass, both against you as a private company and your client the BBC.” They do not visit, but the letters keep coming.
What I find the most obnoxious about these form letters is that they are obviously aimed at scaring vulnerable people — elderly, immigrants, anyone who may not know their legal rights — and is one more reason to boycott the BBC, or refuse to pay for its programmes.
The article asks, “Should we give money to street beggars?”
Note the “we,” which makes it clear that the article is not to be read by “street beggars,” but by those of “us” who can choose to give “them” money or not. At least the BBC is being honest about who it represents.
It then says:
Big Change, the group behind the Manchester scheme on which the Glasgow initiative is based, believe it is a more effective way to help homeless people.
It says while giving money to people begging on the street seems supportive, it doesn't help individuals get away from sleeping rough. It also fails to address the complicated range of reasons which made them homeless.”
Note the assumption that any person who feels they have to beg for money is sleeping rough.
Has a person begging ever asked you, “Can you help me get away from sleeping rough, and can you address the complicated range of reasons which made me homeless?” If so, you are not being obscenely arrogant in taking the attitude of Big Change. If not, you have no right to interfere in their life. Give them the money they've asked for, or do not.
As for the common refrain, “What if they spend it on alcohol or drugs?” That is their business. You do not get to decide what they want, or need, or do. Giving some money to a person begging does not buy you authority over them. Try showing them the respect you would show someone with as much money as you. Try treating them like people, rather than as problems to be fixed.