I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.
— Thomas Jefferson
No matter the legal justifications to remove Mr. Bruce Gertz from the downtown Lake Orion area, we are simply made uncomfortable by someone choosing to live outside.
(Editor’s Note: See The Lake Orion Review, “What to do with Bruce? Village councilmember asks for plan on ending ‘public camping on main street,’ July 10, 2019, page 3; and “Lake Orion’s resident homeless wanderer is ‘okay’ where he is,” July 17, 2019, page 1.)
I first met Bruce while working at Hollywood Markets in 2008. I offered him pizza and a drink every now and then, and he always managed to say hello to me.
Less than six months later, I would be homeless myself. Five weeks wandering the streets of Rochester Hills — I know better than most the landscape without money.
I know the public interest is often considered before the individual’s right to be on public land. That harassment and unease are the defaults in the hearts of those that do not understand being homeless.
This is not a defect of character in Mr. Gertz.
This is not a society that needs to skirt things that make us uncomfortable, or might eat into profits. We need a higher values argument, and it starts with liberty.
Liberty to live as one chooses. Liberty to express oneself and not be made to curtail our freedoms just because we think it “weird” or “untidy.”
He has done nothing wrong. In 20 years, this has never been a concern, why would it now be a concern?
If we want a slippery slope argument, what about what is done here? What about poverty zones for people like myself and Mr. Gertz, walls to remove poverty by just hiding it?
What about spikes to replace park benches so no one dare stop and use a bench to cool themselves on a hot day?
When did we decide that this council would determine one man’s fate?
Let this man live as he desires. Let the consequences be damned.
It may make you uncomfortable, but perhaps rolling up your sleeves for fighting poverty — actual solutions starting with volunteerism — should be our remedy, rather than harassing a man who has done nothing wrong for 20 years.