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More than 200 people died while living on the streets of San Francisco in 2017. I recently received an invitation from the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness to attend the annual homeless persons memorial on the evening of Dec. 21. Throughout the evening, readings and songs by community and religious leaders were followed by the most powerful part of the memorial, the reading of the names of those who have died. As the death toll mounted to over 200, my anger grew.
As police murders accumulate, and police chiefs get fired and replaced because they cannot stop it – as in Oakland and San Francisco – the notion that this represents a political crisis becomes a truism. It is not a “crisis of policing,” which would suggest a situation beyond the capacities of the police. It is the police who have become the crisis.
The air has gotten worse, not better. So these are some of the things that are caused by the dust, the construction and the latent chemicals they have not cleaned up since World War II – plus the current concentration of light industry just outside our neighborhood that all blows into our neighborhood. Yet currently less than 1 percent of African Americans who live in Bayview work in that area and reap the economic benefits. All we get is the pollution and death.
A cleanup worker at the decommissioned Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in southeast San Francisco is facing a rare life threatening cancer he believes is caused by his exposure to known toxins at the federal Superfund site. Diagnosed with a Peripheral T Cell Lymphoma, an aggressive high grade lymphoid malignancy with a five year survival rate of 32 percent, the worker has retained the high powered New York law firm Weitz & Luxenberg.