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Letter: Complaint about transient-camping public-service graphic; Pioneer responds

       Letter to Westside Pioneer:
       Joan and I have been Westsiders now for many years and we have relied on the Pioneer to give us local information and news. Last week we picked up a copy of the latest printed edition [Nov. 13, Page 14] while out for dinner and later that evening came across the homeless cartoon. My wife found it first and actually threw the paper to the floor and said, I will never read the Pioneer again (and she is the most avid reader in the house).
       I was aghast myself when I saw the cartoon depicting homeless people as pot-smoking beggars. This country has had some very difficult times in the recent years and a lot of people are without homes and jobs, through no fault of their own. To depict them in the derogatory way that was displayed in your paper is not only in poor taste, but is especially sad to see at the time of year when we should be extending brotherly love to those less fortunate.
       After all, Jesus himself was a homeless person as you may recall, and he relied on the
This public-service graphic appeared in the print edition of the Westside Pioneer Nov. 13. For the backdrop, the artist used a photograph he had taken of an actual transient camp on the Westside.
Westside Pioneer graphic
charity and good will of strangers to keep him fed and sheltered. We always support the local charities like Springs Mission and Care and Share, to help give less fortunate people food. We all know that there are some folks that are homeless and begging by choice, but to cast them all in the light that your cartoon depicts is in very poor taste, and demonstrates the lowest form of journalistic integrity.
       Needless to say, you have lost two long-time readers of your publication.

       Rick Rodriguez

       Response from Westside Pioneer:
       The Pioneer stands by the graphic, created by the Pioneer staff, and its public-service message. In case you didn't know, public camping is illegal under city code, and it's the job of the Homeless Outreach Team to find permanent-type homes for the transients who do that. Or does your "brotherly love" require that they stay out in the cold?
       By the way, you said you were upset about the pot reference. You might have missed the fact he's also holding a bottle in his hand, and I don't think it's a Pepsi.
       Follow-up note, Dec. 3: In a more serious vein, it is clear that the writer of this letter, while well-intentioned, holds an idealized (and thus incomplete) view of the area transient-camping situation. Squalor of the type shown in this graphic (the backdrop for which was taken from a photo of an actual camp, including the trash lying around), is by far the norm. For the Westside, especially along Fountain Creek and the Midland Trail, such places pop up on a regular basis, keeping the Homeless Outreach Team busy. Also, there is considerable evidence (as indicated by the graphic) that many of these campers are indeed alcoholics, drug users, convicted criminals and even sex offenders. So keep your distance if you see a camp and do the community a favor: Leave a message at the phone number and/or e-mail shown on the graphic for the Homeless Outreach Team.

       Kenyon Jordan, Editor

(Posted 12/2/14, updated 12/3/14; Opinion: Letters)

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