Story and Photos by Jose Olivares for Our Town Reno
Spikes in Place of Benches
If you have ever seen buildings with spikes to prevent birds from landing, you may shudder at the cruelty of the situation.
The great thing is that humans are not animals, and in our city we would never treat one another the same way we treat birds. Right?
Well, if you have recently walked around downtown Reno, you may have passed by the old RTC bus station. The station used to have benches circling it, where people would sit, sleep and rest.
This is not the case anymore.
It's Illegal to Do This and That in Reno
Recently, the City of Reno removed many of the benches and placed sharp, vertical, metal plates where the benches used to stand. They have also placed these metal plates all over cement blocks where trees grow.
This is done in order to prevent anyone from sleeping, sitting or even resting in the old bus station.
The City of Reno has an ordinance that makes it illegal to sit or lie on a public sidewalk in the downtown area. The city also makes it illegal for anyone to sleep in a park. Sleeping in a park is considered “camping” and it is illegal to do so without a permit.
Samurai Jack Speaks Out
As evening settled in a few nights ago, we spoke with Samurai Jack, a man who used to rely on these benches to sleep and relax. He told us of his thoughts on the removal of benches and addition of the metal plates:
Why do you think these spikes were put in to replace the benches?
“They probably put them in because they don’t want all the homeless hanging out here and having fun. I don’t know. They’re just trying to narrow down to less and less places where the homeless can sit.”
What purpose did the benches serve?
“This is a really nice shady spot to relax. A lot of people rely on it out here. A lot of times people come here in the morning to finish sleeping because the overflow [shelter], they make you get up at three-thirty or four in the morning and they just drop you off so people come over here and sleep. I’ve slept here a bunch.” He later added, “I have a lot of friends and family who relied on [the benches] and slept on them.”
Samurai Jack had one last message to the people of Reno:
“I love Reno and I love everyone. Don’t worry, it’s all under control. Samurai Jack’s got it.”
Photos, Interview and Story for Our Town Reno by Jose Olivares