I have spent some time recently at the People Project Tarp shelter; it has been both frightening, heartbreaking and inspiring. Frightening to be exposed to the cold weather and the cold hearts of a few people and cops who yell and harrass. Heartbreaking to have to confront chronic poverty and desperation. Inspiring to see the people insist that food, clothing and shelter are a human right and to break the monopoly the state holds over human services.
The Eureka City Council came to the decision to criminalize the safe sleep zone during closed session, and the barricades and threats of arrest appeared shortly thereafter.
A rather large number of police agents – about 20 cops according to the word on the street- came to arrest a single individual who they perceive as the “ringleader.” Their thinking is that if they take the “leader,” then the shelter will dissolve. But they are wrong, because the need for shelter and the collective will of the people is greater than any individual. So the People Project encampment offers a teachable moment in civil disobedience, non-violent direct action in addition to an analysis of the criminalization of poverty that occurs on a local level and in the context of a national crisis of capital.
The people will continue to gather at city hall, primarily to insist on food, clothing and shelter, secondarily to make transparent the city’s obscenely classist behavior and the contradictions of state-sponsored care. All supportive actions do not necessarily include arrestable behavior – the houseless folks and their allies could use spare blankets or a warm meal. can you provide this?
However a there will absolutely be opportunities for civil disobedience in solidarity with those people who don’t have a choice whether to disobey or not, they simply want to exist and have a night’s rest.
Please call the Eureka City Council to let them know that you are aware of their dishonorable governance regarding the People Project shelter.
There will be a candlelight vigil at Eureka City Hall at 5:30 PM tonight.