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The rich ride for free, the po’ get po’liced: Mayor Lee orders Muni sweeps

January 29, 2014

by Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia

“People are evading their fares. We are only here because the mayor wants to cut down on all the crime,” Officer Carrasco barked at me, while issuing a citation for alleged fare evasion to a young African-descendent student on his way to school. This young brother was one of over 25 people caught in a “sweep” – read invasion – of a Muni bus, who were pulled off the bus so citations could be issued.

SFPD Off. Carrasco issues Muni fare evasion citation Geary & Van Ness 0114, web
SFPD Officer Carrasco issues a citation for fare evasion after a sweep of a Muni bus at Geary and Van Ness.
Cops were there like locusts, 15 deep between fare inspectors and SFPD officers swarming the Muni bus stop at Van Ness and Geary. The bus was loaded to the gills as it often is and people were getting on the back like we always do if there is no room at the front. For this insane, class-based “crime” we were cited.

As the police were following orders from Mayor Lee and harassing us po’ mamaz, youth, elders, working people and disabled houseless folks over an alleged two dollar crime, a monolithic, two story, steel-gray, Mercedes “bus” pulled up to the same stop, the door glided open softly like a digital chariot and three people, heads deep in I-phone love, rushed in. On the giant bus was an LED sign stating its corporate affiliation: Apple Shuttle.

At this point I turned to the army of police and wannabe police aka fare harassers and asked, “Why do the rich get to ride for free? How is that not a crime? Why don’t you give them a citation for fare evasion?” They looked at me blankly, deep in their hegemonic story of “crimes” and who commits them.

Notwithstanding the mayor’s fallacious claims of so-called “crimes” by us po’ and working folks on Muni, the trillion dollar tech-based corporations Google, Twitter, Apple, Genentech, EBay and many more are stealing this city blind, and the mayor has enabled, signed off and/or crafted the giant theft in his attempt to continue the Manhattenization of this increasingly rich-whites-only city.

While at the same time launching an all out class war to evict, destroy, beat down and eventually incarcerate anyone who isn’t part of their tech colonizer kingdom. But please don’t be mistaken: This did NOT begin with rich-people-loving Mayor Lee. Us po’ folks have been fighting the increases of Muni for a minute.

Since the increase in Muni fares in 2011 to $2, which several activists fought against, the fare inspectors and police started trolling the bus stops in poor communities of color like the Mission, Bayview and Tenderloin. They have been swarming the stops, getting on buses and incessantly harassing folks who are just trying to get to and fro.

All of these profiled so-called fare evasion crimes on us folks, especially youth of color, po’ mamaz, houseless folks and disabled elders culminated in the brutal assassination by police of Kenny Harding Jr. over a $2 transfer on July 16, 2011.

Recently, like the gentriFUKation, Ellis Act evictions and sit-lie citations of houseless folks, the “fare sweeps” police harassment has increased and, according to Officer Carrasco, the mayor has a new profiling effort going on. Funny, I didn’t get that memo.

Since the increase in Muni fares in 2011 to $2, which several activists fought against, the fare inspectors and police started trolling the bus stops in poor communities of color like the Mission, Bayview and Tenderloin.

Tony Robles, co-editor of POOR Magazine, reported a disabled elder being tackled to the ground last week by two SFPD officers for so-called fare evasion. Myself and Jewnbug of POOR Magazine have been harassed multiple times with all of the Family Project children, and Queenandi of POOR has witnessed multiple times the harassment, abuse, profiling and citing of recyclers and houseless elders.

The tech industry has earned more than $37 trillion this year, according to New Machine Age.

So as the trillion dollar tech industry rides on in their shiny buses, completely for free, paying nothing, taking more and more real jobs away from real people, giving fewer and fewer people more and more blood-stained dollars to hoard, while also giving our real, union-paid jobs to robots and technology, evicting more and more of us working folks to make way for the rich elite to live.

All of these profiled so-called fare evasion crimes on us folks, especially youth of color, po’ mamaz, houseless folks and disabled elders culminated in the brutal assassination by police of Kenny Harding Jr. over a $2 transfer on July 16, 2011.

The message is crystal clear: Our poor bodies, our children’s bodies, our mama bodies, our elder bodies, our disabled bodies must pay, must leave, must be incarcerated – and are ultimately irrelevant.

Tiny – or Lisa Gray-Garcia – is co-founder with her Mama Dee and co-editor with Tony Robles of POOR Magazine and its many projects and author of “Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America,” published by City Lights. She can be reached at deeandtiny@poormagazine.org. Visit www.tinygraygarcia.com and www.racepovertymediajustice.org.

 

7 thoughts on “The rich ride for free, the po’ get po’liced: Mayor Lee orders Muni sweeps

  1. John Mulligan

    First of all, Kenneth Harding was on the run for murder. He tried to shoot his way out and died. The world is better off. Second, you have no concept of how society works. See, people "pay" for civic services. We pay things called "taxes" and "fairs" which pay for busses, roads and libraries. This is likely a concept you never experienced considering your job is to "take." So the tech busses aren't free, they are very much paid for by the tech companies and earned by their employees. When those employees are taxed, they pay for your food stamps, health care and welfare. You never paid for anyone's anything. You constantly submit articles here talking about how you're a "mama" and all this and that. You should have staid in school and used birth control until you had a steady wage. Then you wouldn't have become a "poverty schola" and would actually "pay your fair." If there weren't people in San Francisco who made money, and only takers like you, it would be another Detroit. Then there would be nothing for you. Be happy.

    Reply
  2. missionfilms

    We are two high school students working on a documentary about gentrification in the mission. Growing up in San Francisco, we have experienced the ever changing nature of our city and feel impassioned about documenting it. The process of film making thus far has been exciting, interesting, and eye opening to say the least. Because we are taking on this project as a personal endeavor rather than part of a class, we are faced with the reality that it takes funds to create a quality documentary. That is why we've come to you to ask for your help in supporting our project. Please check us out at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/missionfilms

    Reply
  3. law abiding citizen

    You may not think that fare evasion is a serious crime, but it is the reason we end up paying higher and higher fares for Muni. I think Muni needs to improve their fare recovery rate, but it’s still the responsibility of riders to pay their fare and “pay their fair share.” I ride Muni every day. I use several bus lines and I usually see AT LEAST one rider get on the bus without paying. This is within a short bus ride of about 15 minutes. Even if you had a minimum of four fare evaders per hour, that is on one bus. Multiply that by however many buses Muni runs daily. That is a lot of money that Muni could be earning that could be put towards the cost of maintenance, etc., so that Muni doesn’t have to keep raising the fares or the cost of Muni passes.

    Reply
  4. seamus

    Here in Oakland, we need more police. We have robberies and killings with alarming regularity. Guess who is doing it? It's African American males. Why? We have lots of poor people of other races, but we're getting jacked by one group. Something is causing this.

    Reply
  5. Meaghan D

    Kenneth Harding was criminal on the run. The brave police officers that he shot at, know that he died not by their bullet, but by his own. The taxpayers of this great city will not have to pay another dime for Kenneth Harding. You couldn't have asked for a better ending. Lots of folks out there that day that saw everything but either decided to say nothing or lied about the facts to police. Thank God it was all on video for the whole world to see. I guess the author above didn't talk to the right people or see fit to check the facts before she writes her dribble. I wish there was as passion with protests and community dialogue when there's a black on black murder. It will never happen.

    Reply
  6. Garret Nichols

    Great article on the sad state of transit in San Francisco. Fare inspection is another reason for the police to harass working people, plain and simple. Twitter gets a $30 million tax-break for staying in SF but SFPD is vexed because I did not pay a $2 fare? Something not balanced about that one. To get to the most critical part of this argument is: armed police should NOT be allowed to check fare without accompanying MUNI inspectors. Having armed SFPD boarding buses to check fare is an accident waiting to happen and something that happens in 3rd world war zones. An evolved, progressive city like SF can do better and MUST do better before some monolingual worker gets shot and killed over $2 fare!

    Reply

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