June 1, 2017
It’s Friday afternoon at the drop-in center known as Mother Brown’s on the corner of Jennings Street and Van Dyke Avenue. Despite the iron-gated door fronting the entrance, people drop in freely to check their mail, take a shower, do laundry or chill out in the reception area. For a nominal fee, Mother Brown’s rents out lockers. Gwendolyn Westbrook, the director of the United Council of Human Services – the official name of Mother Brown’s – as well as staff, describe the place as a community center. Client Johnny Scott likens Mother Brown’s to a family. “This here is a place where people get along,” he says.
August 6, 2015
In 1999, San Francisco cops pounded on Liz Washington’s door and burst in with their hands on their guns. “It was like they were going to be in a shoot-out,” said Liz. Flourishing an unreadable paper that she could not identify as a warrant, they snatched her three children, literally grabbing her nursing infant from her arms. This brutal act began the chain of events that ended with the family’s long imprisonment on Treasure Island.