Besides pigeon dung, homelessness is among the top concerns for organizers of the Republican National Convention. Not because they want to solve the homelessness problem, but because it’s going to be right across the street from their convention.
This year’s Republican National Convention is being held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota directly across the street from one of the city’s largest homeless shelters, the Dorothy Day Center. The Center houses about 200 people and is clearly visible from the Convention steps.
While homelessness and poverty have been hidden for past Republican conventions, St. Paul officials claim the Dorothy Day Center will be “outside the convention’s security perimeter,” and therefore will be left alone. This is good news to those worried the Center might have been shut down permanently if it were deemed to be within the security perimeter.
While the GOP claims there won’t be a problem with the Center’s location, their past efforts at covering up homelessness and poverty tell a different story. The Village Voice reported in 2004 that, “As the Republican National Convention nears, street people have started to disappear.”
And before the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, former Republican governor of New Jersey Christie Whitman lead the effort to tear down all the structures—which included many abandoned buildings, strip clubs, and run down hotels—along Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden, NJ. Camden, one of the nation’s poorest cities, is located directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia and was on the route to the convention for many Republican Party members.
Right now, it’s impossible to know what will happen to the Dorothy Day Center during the Republican National Convention. But the juxtaposition of the homeless and some of the most powerful and wealthy people in the world will hopefully create interest in the media and within the Republican Party—at least for the two minutes they go outside for a smoke.
Note: I wrote this article as a writing sample required for a job interview.