Famed New York City bookstore the Strand has allegedly been hosing down homeless people with its sprinkler system in an effort to discourage them from sleeping beneath its trademark red awning overnight. Jesus Christ. We thought reading was supposed to make you more empathetic.

DNAinfo reports (emphasis ours):

Signs reading, "Warning: Sprinkler System Will Run Periodically From 10:30 PM-9:00 AM" were placed on the wall of the bookshop at the corner of East 12th Street and Broadway. Some homeless people said they were doused when they tried to sleep on the sidewalk in front of the store, store employees and the homeless said.

"It was to keep people from sleeping out there," said a Strand bookseller who asked that her name not be used. "People used to sleep over there and in the morning we have to put out the book carts, so it was a little bit difficult and uncomfortable for some people."

The Strand's manager told reporters that the sprinklers are for keeping the sidewalk clean, but homeless who have slept near the bookstore said that the system also serves to soak needy people in freezing cold weather: "It was bad because you get soaking wet. If you're lying there and you don't know about it, everything is going to get soaking wet—all your personal belongings. You're going to freeze, basically."

The Strand has since removed the signs warning of its nighttime sprinklers.

[Image via Flickr user Egan Snow]