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“This (conservatorship law) sounds like slavery to me,” reported Memphis, houseless poverty skola reporter for POOR Magazine’s RoofLESS radio after a terrifying town hall on SB1045, the new anti-poor people conservatorship legislation that was just signed into law by then-Gov. Brown and will be enacted as a “demonstration” in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.
The passage of this measure is a resounding voter mandate for desired change around homelessness, giving the city the resources it needs to finally address the crisis. For thousands of destitute San Franciscans, this has infused hope that they will soon have the opportunity to thrive that only a home can bring. Prop C only taxes large corporations that gross over $50 million and has a detailed plan for both its spending and results and mandates community oversight of the funding.
With the Northern California wildfires still raging and San Francisco streets deserted as everyone is told to take shelter, homeless people in the City have no shelter from air quality labeled the worst in the world. Yet during this smoke-created public health crisis, early every morning, thousands of homeless adults and dozens of homeless families are forced out of their shelters to spend the day in long lines outdoors waiting for a shelter bed for the night.
Ronnie Goodman, a well known San Francisco artist who is experiencing homelessness, had his artwork confiscated by the City, and was then arrested and spent a night in jail. He was charged with a state anti-lodging law known as 647e, which is probably unconstitutional, and felony vandalism, which was then dropped for lack of evidence. Ronnie is a very gifted, creative individual who has struggled with many challenging issues, including poverty, homelessness, racism, hunger and injustice.
A white jogger throwing a Black homeless man’s property into Lake Merritt. A well-dressed man kicking a sleeping man’s face so severely he was hospitalized. The owner of a local club circulating death threats to homeless people and chasing a camper with a gun. These are just some of the publicized events. Of course, people forced to live outdoors face this and worse on a regular basis.
The month of February signifies the annual celebration of Black History Month, a time to recognize African American achievements and contributions to America. One notable consequence is the hero worship of a handful of prominent figures. This celebration of Black achievement tends to be sanitized, and this selective representation often comes at the expense of erasing a rich legacy of individuals, groups and movements just as important in the legacy of Black struggle.
Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, marked the death of the 1,044th person that we know of killed by Tasers in North America, the most recent in Oakland after a man, Marcellus Toney, tried to flee a multi-vehicle accident. This unnecessary death reveals the primary reason why San Franciscans have consistently rejected Tasers for the SFPD. Yet on Nov. 3, the San Francisco Police Commission voted and approved a renewed proposal to arm the SFPD with these weapons. This begs the question: Who are the proponents of Tasers?
“Prison abolition is different from penal abolition. We don’t just want to get rid of the structures; we want to get rid of the whole system that functions to destroy people,” said Ashanti Alston, Black Panther and penal abolitionist. POOR Magazine had the blessing of listening to Ashanti and many more freedom fighters at the 17th International Conference on Penal Abolition held in New Bedford, Mass.
Homeless people and their allies will be honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign and Resurrection City on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 12:00-2:30 p.m., at Civic Center Plaza. They are gathering as part of Martin Luther King Day protests occurring across the West Coast, including Denver, Sacramento, Salinas, Oakland and Portland, to highlight increased criminalization of homeless people and to protect the rights of poor people, along with the Reclaim MLK Day 120 Hours of Action.
In pouring down rain, city officials started clearing “Box City” at 7 a.m. this morning. City workers threw belongings into dumpsters and crushed previously occupied boxes. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness released best practice guidelines for municipalities recommending that individuals in encampments should have access to housing before they are removed from said areas and, if no such housing exists, to provide temporary shelter that leads to housing. San Francisco is violating those guidelines.
While two heavily armed police officers stood directly across the street watching us, a group of the most impacted, unhoused, criminalized, injured, disabled, Black, Brown, Trans and Indigenous peoples gathered to demand a 90-day moratorium on the killing of our Black, Brown, disabled and unhoused residents of this city and all cities struggling with the ongoing murder of our children, youth, elders and families.
A shooting by police officers of a homeless man camping on Shotwell Street near 18th Street occurred in the Mission Thursday, April 7. On Friday, the Medical Examiner identified the victim as 45-year-old Luis Gongora, a San Francisco resident. This shooting happened less than 24 hours after a late-night Police Commission meeting at which members of the Police Officers Association fought against changes to the Department General Order concerning use of force.
Building after building, block after block from the Bayview to Baltimore and from Sunnydale to East Oakland, the last vestige of so-called public – that is, government owned – housing in the richest country in the world lie dormant. Boarded up, locked, gated and shut – each apartment equipped with two, three and four bedrooms, one or two bathrooms and full kitchens.
Against all odds, a grassroots coalition defeated a plan to build a new, 384-bed downtown jail at a cost of $240 million – up to $465 million including 30 years of debt financing. In what the No New Jail Coalition called “an historic moment in our long and difficult fight against jail expansion,” the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted Dec. 15 to reject the new jail plan.
The broken windows model of policing uses code words like “disorder” and the metaphor of “broken windows,” focusing on the importance of “fixing,” aka policing, getting rid of, cleaning out broken windows as a way of “preventing” more “serious crime.” The poor, disabled and houseless scholars from POOR Magazine who have experienced the violence of this private policing launched the WeSearch Policy Group in 2013.
At a time that the Department of Justice is calling the citing, arresting and forced displacement of homeless people for sleeping cruel and unusual punishment, new data from the SFPD indicates that it is fully engaged in this practice: Homeless people received 11,920 citations for resting in public space in 2014. A total of 13,390 citations were given to homeless people for anti-homeless “offenses.”
Californians United for a Responsible Budget filed an appeal challenging the environmental report put out by the SF Planning Department regarding the proposed construction of a jail at 855 Bryant St. as insufficient. A central concern for opponents of the jail is that the planners of the project did not seriously assess the high likelihood of displacing people in 14 Single Resident Occupancy (SRO) units living at 480-484 Sixth St.
A tragic impact of increased gentrification and the rapid development of neighborhoods like the Mission is the almost complete elimination of neighborhood-based recycling centers in the most populated neighborhoods in the city. In the past year, five recycling centers have been evicted and shut-down. Most recently Safeway has evicted Market Street’s San Francisco Community Recyclers Center at Church and Market.
On Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), coordinated its West Coast Days Of Action across three states and 11 cities. From 2005 to 2014, WRAP has worked to build a large people’s movement rooted in and accountable to groups and individuals defending poor peoples’ constitutionally-guaranteed human right to exist in public space, acquire housing and employment, and enjoy equal protection under law.
In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the weekend commemorating his work in the Civil Rights Movement, Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) member organizations are creating model legislation for California and Oregon Homeless Bills of Rights. Groups across California and Oregon will be holding events and rallies throughout MLK weekend.
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