by Dorsey Nunn
My name is Dorsey Nunn. I’m with All of Us or None and executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. At this point, I have been looking at the criminal justice system for approximately 40 years.
I’m sitting back there waiting for (agenda) Item No. 3 (a new jail for San Francisco), and while I’m waiting for it I’m listening to the testimony for Item No. 1 (hiring more police officers). And I can’t help but ask the question: “How much racism needs to be practiced for us to determine that we don’t need this jail?”
If we are going to talk about transparency on some real level, we can’t keep rewarding law enforcement with the construction of institutions that maintain Black people at a disproportionate rate. We can’t keep rewarding them for stopping more African Americans for smoking weed, arresting more African Americans, putting us in prison at a higher rate. At what point do we say enough is enough?
If we vote to give the sheriff the money, that means nothing we have said, none of the reports that we have issued counted for anything. We could just as well have saved the paper, saved the people’s time and not allowed them to do the research if the outcome is going to be the same as if you weren’t informed about anything.
“How much racism needs to be practiced for us to determine that we don’t need this jail?”
If there’s anything that I really want to emphasize it’s that I know that the jail you want to build right now, you are actually considering it for my kids. That’s what I know. I was here and I fought the jail in San Bruno. I fought the jail on Sixth Street.
I haven’t been to jail in probably 20 something years, but my son has been to jail, and my grandson has been to jail. So I think the jail that you’re considering right now must be for my grandchildren or my great-grandchildren.
I ask you to actually think about not building a jail because at a certain point, you are going to have to stop acting like slave catchers.
This testimony was delivered June 18 before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee and a crowd that packed the big main chamber. Committee Chair Eric Mar said the testimony had convinced him to vote against a new jail. Watch the entire hearing HERE. Dorsey Nunn can be reached at email@example.com.
From poverty to prison: A new report on poverty crimes is released while a new jail for us poor people is proposed
by Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia, daughter of Dee and mama of Tiburcio, Poor News Network
“Please don’t build another jail for my children and grandchildren,” said Dorsey Nunn, leader with All of Us or None, at a press conference preceding the San Francisco Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee hearing on San Francisco’s million dollar new jail. “And I think building this jail is a flat-out racist thing to do.” Dorsey went on to critique the lie of scarcity and the hypocritical building of a million dollar jail, when we supposedly are in a budget crunch.
Dorsey’s powerful words seemed to summarize the whole day, which began at an unveiling of the “Punishing the Poorest” report by the Coalition on Homelessness, a powerful collection of what we at POOR Magazine call Poverty Skolarship – knowledge and experience lived by poor people, not learned academically – on the 21st century violent war on poor people in San Francisco, one of the richest and increasingly elite cities in the world, and ending at a surreal hearing about the texts from racist San Francisco slave-catchers (aka police) followed by the proposal for a new plantation (jail) in San Francisco.
“At least one of my friends had a miscarriage after being sprayed by Department of Public Works with that chemical that they spray on homeless people all the time,” said Juliana, a fierce single mama who was houseless in San Francisco while pregnant and added her powerful voice to the “Punishing the Poorest” report presentation.
“Walking While Trans” was the term used by Woods Ervin, a fierce warrior from Critical Resistance who spoke about the way that trans people are far more likely than others to be profiled, stopped, questioned and often detained or harassed by police.
Shuttling from the COH report release to the jail hearing with David Campos, Eric Mar, All of us or None, Critical Resistance and so many powerful organizers, I was thrown into a vortex of removal, terror and my own raw and un-healed PTSD.
After years of struggling with poverty and criminalization, one of the saddest moments in me and my mama’s loca vida was when I was incarcerated for being houseless. While in jail I met 10 other women who literally didn’t have the money for bail or a lawyer and like me were in jail for crimes of poverty, white supremacy and colonization.
After years of struggling with poverty and criminalization, one of the saddest moments in me and my mama’s loca vida was when I was incarcerated for being houseless.
My mama and me went on to launch POOR Magazine with other poverty skolaz like us with mentorship and advice from plantation prison skolaz like Dorsey Nunn and Roma Guy. And so in some ways, like Dorsey noted at the press conference, “We have been here many times before, and the lie of force and fear shouldn’t be the way we trying to ‘solve’ anything.”
From CPS to ICE to UC Berkeley to Pelican Bay, our poverty and struggle provides an endless source of dollars for people to study, test, incarcerate and arrest. Meanwhile, the mis-education system, the lie of kkkapitalist “success,” extreme gentrification and rich people’s development continues to provide an ever-growing population of evicted, torn-apart and broken people to fuel the criminal in-justice system and the always on duty slave catchers.
“Please don’t build another jail for my children and grandchildren,” said Dorsey Nunn. “And I think building this jail is a flat-out racist thing to do.”
At the end of the hearing, politricksterism was hard at work, with Supervisor Jane Kim postponing the vote to July 16 for some unknown reason, and considering the yes vote the day before by Oakland City Council for an enormous rich people development on East 12th Street public land and the no vote for a moratorium on rich people housing in San Francisco the week before, not to mention the privatization of public housing in San Francisco under RAD and our endless removal by real estate speculators, the new jail is obviously the only poor people housing proposal that might actually get funded.
Tiny – or Lisa 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit POOR at www.poormagazine.org.