Just hours after the New York Post dedicated its front page to shaming a homeless woman living in New York City's Hell's Kitchen area, police and other city workers arrived to throw away a significant amount of her worldly possessions. The incident, which was caught on video, provides a glimpse of the devastating real-world consequences of the right-wing media's attacks on the homeless and of their larger poor-shaming campaign.
In a March 9 article titled "She runs this town," the New York Post disparaged a homeless New York City resident named Sonia Gonzalez for the collection of belongings that she keeps with her on the street. The article featured comments from passersby complaining that Gonzalez's belongings obstruct pedestrian traffic and included an ominous quote attributed to a construction worker who said that her presence in the area threatened to set the up-and-coming neighborhood back to “what [it] was 20 years ago.” As has been the case several times in the past, the Post amplified its poor-shaming article with a full front-page spread:
As a March 10 post from Gawker pointed out, police and other city workers arrived in Hell's Kitchen to forcibly dispose of the vast majority of Gonzalez's possessions just hours after the paper hit newsstands. The New York Post was on the scene to film the incident, which it published online in a blog titled “Homeless hoarder's junk train gets tossed.”
The New York Post has a long-running devotion to humiliating New York City's homeless population. Last summer, the paper dedicated its July 11 front page to demeaning a homeless man for urinating in public and then excoriated the police for releasing him after his arrest the next day. In September, the paper's front page proclaimed, "We need tough love" to solve homelessness in the city, while promoting former Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani's proposal to arrest homeless people as a way of keeping them off the street. Last November, the paper hyped what it called a "vagrant fix" on its front page by encouraging New York residents to stop giving money to the homeless. A day later, the paper drove the point home by promoting claims that homeless people can make up to "$200 an hour" from charitable pedestrians.
The Post's humiliation of the homeless does not occur in a vacuum. Last summer, the paper's attacks were part of a right-wing media echo chamber that included multiple dehumanizing segments on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor and a fraught segment on MSNBC's Morning Joe, where the co-hosts and guests worried that "the squeegees are coming" to neighborhoods like the Upper West Side. In September, after months of right-wing outlets complaining about the presence of homeless people on the streets, Fox News dedicated multiple segments to disparaging a program in Washington, D.C., that actually kept homeless families in affordable housing.
Too often, right-wing media's preferred solution to homelessness is to simply make the homeless disappear -- whether by locking them up, or destroying their belongings -- even when doing so would be a blatant violation of their constitutional rights.
H/T to Gawker for initially highlighting the New York Post cover story