This Rapper Helped Give 'Shameful' Anti-Homeless Benches a Perfect Makeover
A rapper and his friend made us think about how to help, not hurt, the homeless.
A few days after photos of anti-homeless bars bolted to Bournemouth benches sparked outrage in the UK, rapper Professor Green has channeled his anger into action.
On Thursday, Professor Green — aka Stephen Paul Manderson — and his friend Max McMurdo used a socket wrench to remove a rod from one of the benches and replaced it with a wide, looped bar under which a person could fit. McMurdo, a designer, then covered the bench with a tarp, propped up by the new bar, to create a DIY shelter.
The rapper filmed the act of defiance as part of an Instagram story broadcast to his 795,000 followers.
After delivering their powerful message, McMurdo replaced the original bar, but not before a crowd had gathered to watch the act.
While makeshift tents in public parks are not the fix for homelessness, the duo’s public demonstration highlights the skewed priorities in societies that seem more willing to punish the homeless than to prevent them from ending up on the street in the first place.
Professor Green said the money spent on measures to keep homeless people away would be better spent on homelessness prevention and support for individuals who have nowhere else to sleep but outside.
“Nothing done to tackle the problem, just something to make it more invisible so we can pretend it isn't happening,” Green said.
Leading advocates for the homeless shared the rapper’s perspective on how communities ignore or alienate their homeless residents.
“Unfortunately, measures to deter rough sleepers are not uncommon as councils continue to struggle with rising levels of homelessness,” Polly Neate, who runs the homeless service agency Shelter, told HuffPost UK. “But the solution to rough sleeping isn’t to penalize desperate people — it’s about giving them access to proper support and advice.”
According to the Bournemouth Borough Council, the anti-homeless rods cost £3,650, or more than $5150, to install. They also said they provide shelter beds to homeless residents and fund outreach programs.
Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals including goal number 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities. The important goal demands “access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services.” You can take action here.
Professor Green also used Instagram to condemn similar “hostile design” elsewhere in the UK.
What began as a few photos posted by the artist Stuart Semple on Facebook Saturday has turned into a nationwide movement to expose what Semple labeled “hostile design.”
“I really don’t think we should be making those kind of statements in our towns and cities, we should be making inclusive places,” Semple told The Independent. “Everybody is welcome.”
All week long, activists and everyday citizens have taken to social media to blast similar anti-homeless architecture.
Anti-homeless architecture is just about one of the most depraved, hateful, unsympathetic things our species has ever created, and truly makes me sick every time I see examples of it. pic.twitter.com/71U5RSj2tz— Ryan Brown (@Toadsanime) January 30, 2018