by Tiburcio Garcia and Amir Cornish, Youth Poverty Skola Reporters for POOR Magazine
Editor’s note: Tiburcio and Amir are students at Deecolonize Academy, the poor and indigenous people-led liberation school on the sacred land we houseless poverty skolaz call Homefulness.
The metallic crunching fills the air; the screeching sound of metal destroying metal pierces the skin harder than the whipping ocean breeze. Homes, belongings, memoirs, crushed like tin cans by Marin County, the people who resided in them for generations shuffled around while forced to watch everything they knew be destroyed.
Preventing this from happening on a larger scale and preventing this from happening to thousands of other houseless and poor people was the reason behind the Tuesday, June 22, #SupportNotSweeps action in front of Caltrans.
“People living on their boats for hundreds of years are now in jeopardy as much as people living under freeways!” a houseless sailor yells, looking back at the corporate building that stands as a monument of terror.
“The Harbormaster is smashing boats; the city council and the counsellors are agreeing to it and there’s tons of money being made on the backs of the people.” This man, along with many others, came out to speak out on their situations of being harassed by entities just like Caltrans, who don’t care if human lives are being put at risk because of their actions as long as they make a profit.
“People living on their boats for hundreds of years are now in jeopardy as much as people living under freeways!”
We youth and family poverty skolaz at POOR Magazine have supported and reported on the Support Not Sweeps action through theatre and presence. The theatre acted out the very real violence so many of us at POOR Magazine have dealt with and still deal with in the form of a Theater of the POOR.
Some of us acted out a very familiar scene: houseless people in tents being harassed by cops and DPW officers, the DPW officers chanting louder and louder over the desperate cries of the people, “We are just doing our jobs! We are just doing our jobs.” I hope that no matter how many times they say that they won’t be able to sleep at night.
When I was younger, me and my mother were houseless, evicted over and over again in the city of San Francisco. I was never on the streets, but we always knew from our friends and family the violence of the sweeps that happened then and continue to happen nearly a decade later. Then, Homefulness was born out of a dream from my grandmother’s head, from years of teaching people with race and class privilege to give reparations.
As long as there is money to be made, this government will colonize and pillage and destroy to get it.
Now, we are being tied up by the City of Oakland, the same city that sweeps so many houseless people, unable to complete a project that will take us and our families out of houselessness. We all went to Oakland City Hall to demand Free Homefulness right after the Support Not Sweeps action at Caltrans.
The struggle unhoused people are dealing with now is nothing new. It’s what my mama, Tiny, calls the “violence called sweeps, or the violence of exposure,” swept like we houseless people are trash. But it is getting worse.
From live-aboard and poor boat residents to people sleeping in tents, people are constantly being “swept” and thrown away and demolished and displaced. The sweeps and destruction are increasing in the so-called “opening back up” of cities all across this state. They are increasing evictions of houseless peoples from their tents and lands when they have nowhere to go.
The #SupportNotSweeps action, near downtown Oakland, filled up nearly the entire block with houseless and poor people proclaiming their human rights and demanding justice.
Boats being destroyed in front of their now houseless owners’ eyes, lifelong belongings being thrown in a dump truck by glassy eyed workers – day after day it happens and it never stops. As long as there is money to be made, this government will colonize and pillage and destroy to get it.
Stand with Liveaboard Mariners as they fight an eviction of their whole encampment where they have been forced to live after their boats were crushed in front of their eyes by the wealth-hoarder poltricksters of so-called Sausalito, Marin County, aka Occupied Miwok Territory, on Tuesday, June 28, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., 300 Locust St., in Sausalito, Calif.
Read more about issues of poverty and race written by the people who face them daily at POOR Magazine/POOR News Network, www.poormagazine.org and www.racepovertymediajustice.org. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow them on Instagram @poormagazine.