The state is at war with the homeless. City governments, especially in large cities, have been working hard to make the lives of homeless individuals miserable in the hopes that they’ll leave and, effectively, become another city’s problem. Fortunately there are people who are trying to fight the state. One of the ways people in London are fighting back is through a tactic called guerrilla benching. If you live in a large city you’ve likely noticed an increasing number of divided or otherwise oddly shaped benches. Although it seems like these odd benches are so shaped for artistic reasons the truth is that they are designed that way to prevent homeless people from sleeping on the benches. Guerrilla benching is the act of clandestinely installing benches that individual can sleep on in public spaces.
It’s a rather clever tactic that is difficult to fight. Who is going to pay any attention to a newly installed bench? Who is going to call the police to report a bench that homeless individuals can sleep on? Who is even aware that oddly shaped benches are so shaped to prevent homeless people form sleeping on them? The tactic is brilliant because it exploits the ignorance of the average person. Even city officials are likely to pay little attention to the newly installed bench since they aren’t aware of the day-to-day operations of the city they purport to run.
I would like to see this kind of thing grow. There is little reason to actively prevent homeless individuals from sleeping on public benches. In fact I think it speaks quite ill of our society that resources are being actively invested in making the lives of individuals who have nothing even more miserable. Why not invest those resources in helping those in need instead of hindering them?