As a college student interning at the Iowa City Catholic Worker House, I’ve spent the past year living among and serving the poor. What we do to them, we do to Christ.
There is no doubt in my mind that the new Ped Mall benches with middle dividers discriminate against homeless people, regardless of whether the design was intentional. The very poor often are disabled and elderly, so this is not a contest between two different oppressed groups.
The claim that the new benches provide more seating is an illusion. You don’t need a divider to seat two or three people on a park bench. The city ultimately came up with extra seats by adding extra benches.
Where will Homeless Jesus sleep after the emergency winter shelter closes? Unless they are removed, those new benches always will be in His way.