7-Eleven store owner uses classical music to drive away homeless people


Jagat Patel said his business at his 7-Eleven in Texas has suffered since a group of homeless people moved into a vacant lot next door. He said he has complained about being pressured or blatantly demanding money to pay for his services.

When police intervention failed to resolve the issue, Patel tried new techniques. to play classical music.

For the past two weeks, speakers on the top floor of Patel’s store have blasted Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and more 24/7. So far so good, according to Patel, who owns three 7-Elevens in his franchise in the Austin area. Employees have reported seeing homeless people hanging out, and the number of customers coming in at night has returned to normal levels.

Patel acknowledged that non-stop music can make it difficult for homeless people to sleep at night. He said he didn’t feel comfortable piling up unlucky people, especially since they were also his customers.

“But at the same time, I have to protect my business. This is my bread and butter. If my customers don’t come, that’s a problem.”

To keep homeless from sleeping in waterfront parks, city runs ‘Baby Shark’ on loop

Patel’s idea is not new. A Rite Aid store in Los Angeles blew up Barry Manilow in 2018 to keep homeless people away. A year later, city officials in West Palm Beach, Fla., weaponized the children’s songs “Baby Sharks” and “It’s Raining Tacos” to encourage people to drink the city’s water in his front park. I couldn’t sleep.

Patel isn’t the first 7-Eleven franchisee to use classical music for homeless people. rice field.

“Research shows that classical music is annoying. Opera is annoying, but it works, so I think it’s right,” he told KTBC.

Eric Tarz, legal director of the National Homeless Law Center, told The Washington Post that weaponizing classical music is a way for government officials, church leaders, and business owners to keep homeless people out of public view. He said it was just one example of the “adversarial structure” he uses to Others include public benches with armrests to prevent people from lying down, spikes on flat surfaces to accomplish a similar purpose, and boulders in green areas to prevent camping.

Some churches use sprinklers to keep homeless people at bay, Tarz said. In many cities, authorities have also installed screeching noise devices to force camps under overpasses or overhangs to be abandoned.

Tarz praised the originality, but said it was misdirected.

“We need to focus our energies on constructive solutions that actually end homelessness rather than banishing it from public view,” he added.

Patel, who has owned stores on East Oltorf Street and Parker Lane for more than 11 years, said the situation affecting his 7-Eleven began several years ago. In 2019, the City of Austin decriminalized sitting, lying, and camping on public property. Two years later, voters responded by approving Proposition B, which made these actions illegal again.

In response to the reinstated ban, homeless people moved their camps from public land to an abandoned Sonic restaurant next to a 7-Eleven, Patel said.

The number of customers has plummeted by a third in about a year, Patel said. At one point, he noticed overgrown grass around the 7-Eleven. Unwilling to put his employees at risk, he said he spent thousands of dollars hiring contractors who specialize in removing biohazardous waste.

Patel asked homeless people not to throw used needles and trash over the fence onto his property, but they more or less honored this request, he said.

Patel called the police, but when the officers arrived, the homeless people fled Patel’s property and took refuge in Sonic’s camp, which was shuttered. , they said they can’t do anything. When he called out other city officials, they told him the same thing: it was private property, so they couldn’t do anything unless the owner asked for help.

Patel instructed his employees to get rid of the homeless people, but when the employees were busy helping customers, unloading packages, and stocking shelves, the new neighbors returned.

Next, Patel read that some 7-Eleven stores in California are blaring classical music and opera to force homeless people out of parking lots. he decided to try. He hired a company to install the speakers in his storefront, including cages to protect them. Vendors also control the music played and ensure that volume levels comply with city codes.

Salem, staying with the previous Sonic, described the music as “absolutely offensive”.

“It’s just a nightmare. It’s incredibly loud. A couple of times I could hear it on the other side of the complex,” Salem told KVUE.

Viral video of San Francisco man offering hose to homeless woman sparks outrage

Although non-violent, using music as a weapon falls under a series of punishments aimed at homeless people, Tarz said. Incidents like the one that made the news last week when a San Francisco business owner sprayed a homeless woman with a hose and asked her to move off a public sidewalk aren’t far off on that spectrum.

They can lead to more violent attacks, Tarz said.

“These personal demonstrations of callousness say it’s okay to treat your fellow Americans this way,” he said, adding, “Individual business certainly requires playing loud music. We have the right to do so, but treating people experiencing homelessness that way is something that the larger community can do.”

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