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A family destroyed by eviction

April 16, 2014

by Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia, Poor News Network

Sabrina Carter's plywood-covered door nailed shut on eviction day 040814 by PNN
You know you’ve been evicted when your door is covered with plywood and nailed shut by a sheriff’s deputy. – Photo: PNN
Bang, bang, bang … “Sheriffs here. Open the door! You have to vacate the premises.” On Wednesday, April 8, at 9 a.m., after weeks of last minute legal maneuvers, unanswered calls to the mayor and multiple pleas for a pro bono lawyer to save the single mama Sabrina Carter and her three sons from one of the most unjust evictions I have ever witnessed, we were exhausted. The San Francisco sheriffs, standing shoulder to shoulder with the sold-out housing managers, were outside her door in the Plaza East apartments to change the locks and throw her and her sons into the street.

They were outside the door of Sabrina’s no longer public – now privatized – housing in the Fill-no-Mo, like they were outside me and my mama’s door and so many other people’s doors who were developed, rent-raised, gentrified, Negro-removed and destroyed by this capitalist system that encourages, supports and demands moves inspired by greed.

In these deadly, sci-fi-like moments, when entire families’ lives are destroyed by colonizers’ papers and politricksters’ lies, with names like unlawful detainers, notices to evict and right to possession, time itself moves so strangely slow and so terrifyingly fast all at the same time. Suddenly, before any of us could catch our breath, Sabrina and her youngest son were standing there in the early morning sun, holding back the tears as they watched large plywood boards nail shut what used to be their home.

Sabrina’s family’s tragedy of injustice has everything to do with the dismantling, destroying and privatizing of the public housing system in the U.S., which is rooted in the misleading HUD acronym known as RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) and the ways that racism and policing and the criminalization of young Black and Brown men are used to implement that privatization.

Sabrina’s crisis began when her oldest, then 17-year-old son, like so many youngsters, began to be stalked and profiled by a local police officer who obsessively over-polices the one block of majority African descendent residents at Plaza East. When I was sitting with the family on their front stoop, he circled Sabrina’s one tiny block over 45 times within one hour.

Sabrina Carter's eviction 'No Trespassing' sign on door 040814 by PNN
San Francisco might as well hang a “No Trespassing” sign over the whole city, as gentrification sweeps out poor folks at an unprecedented rate, with “progressive” leaders like Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi presiding over countless thousands of evictions. – Photo: PNN
Multiple profiling of her son eventually led to false charges against the young man, which then led to the building management forcing the mother to file stay away orders against her own young adult son and eventually stipulated agreements she could never keep and ultimately eviction to make way for richer, whiter, gentrified tenants which make this building more desirable in the privatization pool.

“Plaza East is not part of RAD,” one of the managers who presided smugly over Sabrina’s eviction said at a tenants meeting that the POOR Magazine family was invited to a week prior. After his assertion that their apartments were not part of the filthy RAD pool where everyone from non-profit organizations to for-profit corporations like Goldman Sachs were making bank, he went on to contradict himself in one paragraph.

“Well, actually the San Francisco Housing Authority subsidies are now going to come from RAD and we are going to start moving people out who are not fully inhabiting their apartments,” he concluded, thoroughly confusing everyone in the meeting. He went on to cite the three projects that are slated for demolition, as if the demolition of thousands of people’s homes were nothing more than having a cup of coffee and a donut.

Standing on the street holding this mama and her son, dreams, memories, altars, mementos, toys and herstories of this family’s life were permanently lost in a series of hefty bags and clutched blankets. These moments can’t be described and yet I have tried for years. The tears they cause could fill an ocean and no matter how conscious, how revolutionary, and how much I know them far too intimately, I am still destroyed by them.

Sabrina Carter's eviction POOR 'Justice' sign 040814 by PNN
Please help Sabrina and her sons find a good home and a champion to help her fight for justice. – Photo: PNN
We stood there, POOR Magazine co-madres and reporters Queennandi, Jewnbug and me, along with Sabrina’s neighbors and extended family, holding onto her 13-year-old young warrior son and onto her, a lost and overwhelmed mama.

My mind raced with the moves of the last few weeks. The desperate legal saves comrade Leo Stegman and I did for the family at POOR Magazine’s Revolutionary Legal Advocacy Project. The media justice campaign and the countless stories written with POOR and PNN, the San Francisco Bay View and Manilatown Heritage Foundation.

The thousands of caring people who made phone calls to the sold-out mayor, Ed Lee, to try to get him to intervene in this illegal and unjust eviction but who never did because of course it was Lee who invited the private developers McCormack Baron, who bought this public housing, and their lying lawyers, Bornstein and Bornstein, into this town. Not coincidentally, these are the same lawyers who have been evicting Ellis Acted elders and families from their long-time homes by the thousands, while teaching landlords how to be better capitalists and “not care.”

We are still looking for a lawyer to challenge this case. The unjustness of this story has no words.

If you are a lawyer who can help file a state challenge to Sabrina’s case, please contact us. POOR Magazine will also be holding an organizing and info meeting in the Bayview branch of the SF Public Library in May entitled RAD = ERADICATION. Please stay tuned.

Sabrina Carter and sons sing spirit at City Hall 031114 by PNN
Sabrina, left, and her sons sing spirit at City Hall on March 11. Mayor Ed Lee, formerly a civil rights lawyer specializing in eviction defense, turned a deaf ear. – Photo: PNN

Poem for privatized, displaced mamas

“Been fighting for 30 years and I keep losing. Why keep fighting when I’m never gonna win?” said one young privatized, gentrified mama in so much pain to me on the phone as I screamed out to touch her and love her no matter what …

“Noooooooooooooooooo,” I shouted to her and to all the mamaz, the elders, the gentrified and the stepped on.

To the mamaz who hold their heads up – even when there ain’t no more strength in their necks, whose eyes look forward filled with tears, whose hands hold so much, whose souls were never built to be killed over and over again.

These stolen lands weren’t created by the gentrifiers and all the haters, who make these laws and live on all this paper.

Dear Mama Sabrina, Mama Dee, Mama Mimi and all the mamaz who never did nothing but care for their children in racist Amerikkka, I’m raising Superbabymama from the ashes of 1999 dot com evictions. I’m calling upon Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou Hamer and Quetzalcoatl – I’m calling upon Mama Earth and Mama Creator.

The brutality of eviction and gentrification is so deep and wrong and filled with so much white-supremacist monetary lies and deep hatred. THIS is our Freedom Ride, family, and all of us mamaz and ancestor mamaz are needed.

The brutality of eviction and gentrification is so deep and wrong and filled with so much white-supremacist monetary lies and deep hatred. THIS is our Freedom Ride, family, and all of us mamaz and ancestor mamaz are needed.

Hold out your hearts in the wind. Call to your ancestor mamaz to hold these children and these women.

Beware this lie of civilization and corporate crafted institutional statehood. Hold out your hearts, mamas – cuz you know what I’m saying. Hold out your hearts, young mamaz, older mamaz, grandmothers and babies,

‘Cause the river of pain is too great to be sedated, and the women and children are about to go completely CRAZY.

The sounds will be loud and the vibe will be amazing –

‘Cause we all KNOW Superbabymama don’t play.

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.

 

One thought on “A family destroyed by eviction

  1. Reggie w.

    no justice, no peace…..keep ya head up shoulders back them punches coming….

    #JUSTICE4SABRINACARTER’SFAM

    Reply

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