Sacramento Mayoral Candidates Weigh In On City’s Camping Ordinance

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SACRAMENTO –

Two of Sacramento's mayoral candidates are now weighing in on the protest outside of City Hall which is now entering its fourth week.

Protesters are upset about an ordinance that prohibits people from camping out in public places within the city, a rule they say unfairly targets homeless people.

Angelique Ashby, Mayor Pro Tem, and the self-described lesser known candidate, Russell Rawlings, both spoke to protesters Sunday. Both have differing views on the ordinance.

Rawlings, much in agreement with the protesters, believes the ordinance unfairly discriminates against homeless people. Ashby, on the other hand, says the ordinance is designed to keep homeless people off the streets and in more suitable housing.

One day after seven protesters outside city hall were arrested or cited for violating the city's no camping rules, the very rules they're protesting, the group was back out in full force.

"you know they were going to shut it down. I felt like they were trying to end this campaign," says Mohammad Abughannam, one of the protesters against the camping ordinance.

Abughannam says the group has a specific demand for the city, don't punish the homeless who have nowhere else to go, for sleeping outdoors.

"We're not saying we want to camp anywhere in the City of Sacramento, that's not what we want. We want designated areas where people can rest," said Abughannam.

"Criminalizing their basic right to rest, in other words their biological need, is in my opinion illegal and criminal," said Rawlings. "There is not enough alternative housing for the entire homeless population."

But city officials disagree. They went so far as to offer housing options to the protesters before ordering police to arrest them.

"It is an important dialogue to have and they are bringing attention to it," said Ashby.

Ashby says the ordinance is not meant to punish, but to lend a hand.

"It is a dangerous slope for a society to accept no matter how cold it is, how hot is is, that you can just sleep outside and we would turn the other cheek and walk by. This ordinance is about not turning the other cheek," said Ashby.

Ashby says legalizing camping would make it difficult for the city to reach out to those who need it.