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The Quality of Whose Life? Final Part

Linocut by Art Hazelwood

 

Author’s Note: This is the final part in “The Quality of Whose Life?” series.  It focuses on the proliferation of “quality of life” laws across the country that make it a crime to sit or lie on a sidewalk, sleep outside, panhandle, and urinate or defecate in public even when suitable alternatives do not exist. “These repressive new laws trample on the constitutional rights of the poorest of the poor, but few people are even aware of the massive extent of these human rights violations because they are targeted at people who are almost invisible to mainstream society, explains Terry Messman, editor of Street Spirit. “The sheer inhumanity of these discriminatory laws would cause an immediate outcry if imposed on any other minority group in our society.”

“Quality of life” laws are usually part of the gentrification and redevelopment of downtowns and they are enforced in conjunction with the closure of public parks, banning of free food and clothing distribution, and banishment policies like trespass admonishments. To gain public support for passing these laws, officials promise homeless services that seldom get fully implemented.

Part 1 introduced the series, Part 2 examined the broken windows theory that these laws are based on, and Part 3 showed how these laws revive the disgraced vagrancy and banishment frameworks found in Ugly Laws, Sundown Towns, and Bum Blockades. This concluding part details what four West Coast cities have done and are doing to expose and challenge these unjust and discriminatory laws. Their efforts illustrate the dedicated work that is being done across the country. 

Congress and the President recently negotiated how intense this round of the bipartisan war on the middle class and poor will be. The situation will only get worse if Representative Paul Ryan and company get their way.  In this “winner-take-all” social order, “quality of life” laws establish control over shopping and business districts and push the collateral human damage out of sight.  It is a social order that masks and suppresses untenable inequality and cruelty.

The aggressiveness by which “quality of life” laws are enforced varies from place to place depending on local politics, police departments, and community opposition, but three things are consistent across the country. Downtown business alliances and Chambers of Commerce wield too much power over the process, urban public space is being privatized, and poor and homeless people are being stripped of basic citizenship rights.

Civic determination and private resources support “quality of life” restrictions. Chambers of Commerce, business alliances, city officials, and consulting groups meet to share expertise and troubleshoot obstacles.  For example, in 2007, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce sponsored representatives from the Business Alliance of Portland to come to San Francisco to present Portland’s “Street Access For Everyone” plan to city officials. The plan included a sit/lie ordinance. A few years later, Mayor Gavin Newsom introduced a sit/lie ordinance for San Francisco.

Resisting A Filthy, Rotten System

Local social justice groups like the ones we detail below are at the center of opposing what Dorothy Day once described as “our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”  They are forceful and often successful in confronting this trend in individual cities, but they also recognize that as long as this work remains isolated by geography and jurisdictional limitations, it is no match for the formidable wave of power and money that is sweeping the country.

In recognition of this reality, seven west coast groups came together to create a social justice alliance that has communities working jointly whenever and wherever needed.  In 2005, Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness (the Coalition), Sisters Of The Road (Sisters), Street Roots, Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS), Street Spirit, and Real Change became founding members of the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP).  We recognized that only by joining forces, first regionally, then nationally, can we build a movement strong enough to counter the ongoing assaults on poor people and present injustices like the current “quality of life” laws.

For this final part, we look at the groups that make up WRAP.  We highlight the multifaceted civil rights work they are doing to educate, activate, and defend their communities in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Berkeley. Strategies include research, public education, grassroots media, community organizing, advocacy, Community Watch, and citation defense. We conclude with the collaborative work that is being done as WRAP to challenge “quality of life” laws at the regional and national level.

Los Angeles – LA CAN

The Skid Row neighborhood of Los Angeles is the most heavily policed area outside of Baghdad. In the three years of the Skid Row Safer Cities Initiative, 36,000 “quality of life” citations were issued and more than 27,000 arrests were made in a 50-square block community of 15,000 people who are mostly poor African Americans. These mind boggling statistics give Skid Row the notorious distinction of being ground zero for “quality of life” policing.

Photo Credit: LA CAN

To educate, mobilize, and share the stories of their community, LA CAN produces the Community Connection newspaper, their rendition of the North Star and Liberator. Community Connection covers policing, housing, health, budgetary, and other community issues from the perspective of Skid Row residents.  At the end of 2010, LA CAN also released an influential human rights assessment on the negative impacts of the Safer Cities Initiative in Skid Row. Most recently, they published Downtown Blues: A Skid Row Reader, which explores the struggles against displacement, misrepresentation, and civil rights violations in Los Angeles’ Skid Row. In February, a release party for the book at the University of Southern California featured contributors Robin D.G. Kelley, Cedric J. Robinson, Clyde Woods, Pete White, General Dogon, Gary Blasi, Damien Schnyder, LisaGay Hamilton, and Jonathan Gomez. Over 100 people attended the event in celebration of Black History Month.

LA CAN has fearlessly attempted to address the police’s “culture of abuse” through official channels at the local level.  They have used public records and declarations to illustrate illegal actions, public testimony to the Public Safety Committee and City Council, and, with the help of the ACLU and civil rights attorney Carol Sobel, lodged a complaint in federal court that found LAPD — by its own admission — guilty of illegal stops and seizures in Skid Row. Since most attempts have been rebuffed, they submitted a color of law complaint to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and are now in conversation with DOJ staff over the violations that need to be addressed.

In 2005, LA CAN launched a Community Watch program to reduce the harmful impacts of unaddressed state and private security violence. Teams of four LA CAN members patrol the neighborhood with clipboards and a video camera, monitor the police and Business Improvement District security guards known as “red” or “purple” shirts, and gather evidence when the civil rights of residents are violated. Their presence and documentation ensures fewer incidents of brutality and racial profiling. The Nation has recognized Community Watch as “One of the Top Ten Things You Need to Know to Live on the Streets.”

LA CAN also runs a legal clinic that provides education, services, and representation to help low-income tenants and homeless Skid Row residents get their housing needs met. In 2007, they launched a Citation Defense Program in response to the dramatic increase in “quality of life” citations (roughly 1,000 a month) issued under the Safer Cities Initiative.

In order to break the vicious cycle of poverty, incarceration, and disenfranchisement in Skid Row, LA CAN teamed up with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Fulbright and Jaworski, LLP, and other law firms working pro bono to defend Skid Row residents.  Of the 700 tickets handled by the clinic in 2009, 90% were issued for crosswalk violations like jaywalking.  Among the 700 tickets from 2009 that have been resolved to date, 86% had the charges and/or all penalties dismissed and an additional 10% had the community service penalty significantly reduced. Amongst those who reported their disability status on intake forms for the tickets, 60% had a disability.

Through the legal clinic, organizers were also able to identify a resurgence of illegal property confiscation by LAPD from homeless residents.  Again with pro bono legal support, residents claimed initial victory when a Temporary Restraining Order was issued on April 22, 2011 to prevent LAPD and the City’s Public Works Department from seizing or destroying personal property without following proper procedures.

General Dogon, a LA CAN organizer and Skid Row resident, summed up the paradox of punishing the poor this way, “How do you criminalize the blind for being blind or the lame for being lame? If a man don’t have no where to go, he don’t have a job, and the city don’t have nothing to offer him, you can’t criminalize the man for that and this is what they’re doing. The cold part about that is, on this street right here, Main Street, they were allowing the yuppies to sit on the sidewalk. That’s the new in-crowd, and the city is supporting them. They’re the ones getting everything.”

San Francisco – The Coalition

San Francisco suffers similar harassment.  Since the mid-1990s, San Francisco police have issued well over 100,000 citations for minor offenses that target homeless people on the streets.  While these citations do not allow incarceration, the failure to pay the fine is a misdemeanor. Since most homeless people cannot afford to pay the fines, warrants are issued for their arrest.  The end result is that up to 25% of the people in the San Francisco County Jail are homeless.

Outstanding bench warrants for these misdemeanors can also block access to housing and other services needed to exit homelessness. To provide some defense for its community, the Coalition initiated the Citation Defense Program in 1995. Volunteer outreach workers collect citation information and narratives, which they give to pro bono attorneys who provide representation in court. Over the past several years, the Citation Defense Program represented roughly a quarter of all “quality of life” citations issued in San Francisco. The attorneys in these cases have a 97% success rate for getting cases either discharged, dismissed, or fines stayed in guilty findings. LA CAN and Berkeley’s Citation Defense Programs were modeled on the Coalition’s.

In addition to outreach and citation defense, the Coalition has documented police and other government employee harassment and court inequalities to better protect homeless people from injustice and uses its newspaper, Street Sheet, to educate and mobilize the community against anti-homeless measures.  It also used video documentation to end a Department of Public Works program called “Operation Scrubdown” in 2008. Operation Scrubdown sent police-escorted water trucks through the Tenderloin, a neighborhood where homeless people sleep on the sidewalks.  Every morning before dawn, the trucks power blasted the sidewalks and hosed down sleepers with water and a cleaning agent that city officials identified only as “lemon.”  The video documentation brought media attention to this inhumane practice, which led to the program’s termination.

In 2009, the City of San Francisco opened a new Community Justice Center (CJC) in the Tenderloin neighborhood, against the wishes of the electorate. It targeted homeless people, half of whom were charged with no crime other than sleeping outside. Because the City and the courts claimed that they could not provide documentation of the cases heard at CJC, the Coalition attended court almost daily for three months and collected every court calendar that was produced in order to document the injustices occurring.  Although the Coalition was unsuccessful at closing down CJC, the court began to document its work and move away from a homeless focus toward more serious crimes.

In 2010, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors considered a sit/lie law to make sitting or lying down on the sidewalk a criminal act. The Coalition produced reports on the effects of similar laws on small business in other cities, the impact on real crime in other cities, the constitutionality of the law, racially unequal enforcement of similar laws, and the impacts of criminalization on homeless people’s daily lives and on their chances of housing access. This documentation and reporting, in combination with meeting with public officials, public actions, and strong community organizing, led to the Board ultimately deciding to oppose the law.

The law then barely passed in the November election after a $400,000 media campaign that was aired during the San Francisco Giants World Series and financed by individuals from Charles Schwab, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America. However, with less than $10,000, the Coalition and a newly formed group, Sidewalks Are For People Coalition,  reduced support by 16% from just nine months earlier.

Photo Credit: Sidewalks Are For People Campaign

Since then, Coalition civil rights organizer Bob Offer-Westort writes, “the Coalition on Homelessness has begun developing documentation and know-your-rights trainings for members of our community who are cited or threatened with citation.  Simultaneously, attorneys from the ACLU and Disability Rights Advocates, as well as independent attorneys, have begun work developing legal strategies to challenge what we believe to be an unconstitutional law. Through coordinated documentation, litigation, and through public pressure on our legislators, on a new mayoral administration, on the media, and on the consciences of fellow San Franciscans, we know ultimately we will win.”

Portland, Oregon – Sisters and Street Roots

In Portland, Sisters Of The Road (Sisters) and Street Roots have been at the forefront of resistance to “quality of life” measures, including a camping ban and sit/lie ordinance. In 2003, Sisters and Street Roots launched the Right to Sleep Campaign, urging City Hall to look at alternatives to criminalization measures that target individuals living on the streets. In their newspaper, Street Roots highlighted the civil rights issues faced by people experiencing homelessness through in-depth reporting on private security in downtown Portland and how it relates to the criminalization of homelessness. Over the years, the newspaper reported on a number of criminalization efforts, including alternatives to the camping, sit-lie, and Drug Free Zones. Due to community pressure and legal challenges, the sit/lie ordinance was twice struck down as unconstitutional in 2004 and 2009.

 

Photo Credit: Michael Lloyd/Oregonian

In 2010, the city proposed another version of the sit-lie law called the Sidewalk Management Ordinance. In response, Sisters organized an action in celebration of sidewalks being for everyone that was attended by over 200 unhoused and housed allies who then marched to City Hall to testify against the measure.  Sisters exposed the classism and bias of the new ordinance in a public statement they used in their media work, outreach to the community, and in City Council hearings.

Sisters also gave a presentation to the city’s Human Rights Commission on the history of the two previous sit/lie ordinances, how it had been used against homeless people, and how the Council was manipulating the issue to make the new ordinance seem like it was about mobility rights for “differently-abled” people.  They specifically objected to the way the ordinance used the Americans with Disabilities Act. Homeless people were targeted for blocking sidewalk access for people with disabilities even though the Portland Housing Bureau recently found that 47% of homeless people had a high risk of mortality caused by untreated disabilities.

A week after the presentation, the Human Rights Commission took a public stand against the ordinance. At the next City Council hearing on the ordinance, three Commissioners testified that it violated human rights and the City Council should vote no on it.

Despite these efforts the ordinance passed. Sisters immediately switched gears and launched a “know-your-rights” campaign. They did street outreach that included handing out 2,000 flyers to educate Portlanders on their rights under the law and invited them to organize with them to oppose the ordinance. Sisters’ organizer Chani Geigle-Teller notes, “Largely because of this organizing on the streets, conversation by conversation, our weekly Civil Rights Workgroup consistently has over 12 volunteers who come in throughout the week to help us carry out this work!”

Berkeley – BOSS

Berkeley, another “liberal” city, is now considering its own no-sitting ban to go along with a no-lie ordinance passed in 2007 under Mayor Bates’ Public Commons for Everyone Initiative.  Since the 1990s, there have been multiple attempts by merchant associations such as the Downtown Berkeley Association and Downtown Berkeley Business Improvement District, the Mayor’s office, and City Council to clear out homeless people from People’s Park and the shopping districts along Shattuck and Telegraph Avenues.

Like anti-homeless measures in other cities, the Public Commons for Everyone Initiative promised a mixture of services and policing. Largely due to pressure from groups like BOSS, East Bay Community Law Center, and Homeless Action Center, the city made a little progress on outreach, Social Security Income advocacy, extension of public bathroom hours, treatment services, and addressing harassment complaints against the Berkeley HOST Program (a private ambassador program paid by the city to patrol the downtown area).  But it has fallen woefully short on providing housing and other services that were promised.

Photo Credit: Janny Castillo, BOSS

The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Business Association are now pushing to ban sitting on the sidewalk. The Chamber of Commerce says the ban is necessary to curtail negative behavior and scary pets that are frightening people away from the downtown area. Advocates argue that there are laws already in place to address these issues and the new ban will target homeless people. Like the new sit/lie law in San Francisco, Berkeley’s latest effort directly targets homeless youth. To assert any homeless person’s right to exist in public space, BOSS and allies organized a “sit down for justice” action last month. Michael Diehl, a long-time community activist led a sit-in and demonstration that drew local news and passersby. UC Berkeley students from the Suitcase Clinic and other student groups joined the sit-in. Later that evening, the group marched to a Berkeley City Council meeting to speak out against the sit ordinance and its likely negative impact on the homeless population.

To focus public attention on this growing trend of discriminatory laws and reclaim public commons in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Portland, WRAP, the Coalition, BOSS, Sisters, Right to Survive, and other allies coordinated a “Sidewalks Are For People Day” on May 22, 2011. This three-city action is a small example of the type of collaboration and solidarity that is needed to overcome the civil and human rights issues raised in this series.

As shown by the work described above, local civil rights efforts have been effective at curtailing the level of criminalization in individual neighborhoods and cities.  They have led to many successful actions and put pressure on mayors, police chiefs, local human rights commissions, and even the DOJ, to begin responding to these widespread abuses. Important victories have been won, but they have been separated by geographical boundaries.   They need to be joined and that is the mission of WRAP.

Coming Together For A More Inclusive Quality of Life

WRAP is creating an organizing model that builds strategic relationships across local boundaries and unites community organizers, poverty and civil rights activists, students, the faith community, public defenders and progressive lawyers in the civil rights struggle.

In our short history, we have organized a regional “House Keys not Handcuffs” action in San Francisco that brought together over 1,000 people from up and down the West Coast to demand the federal government begin addressing our civil rights and housing issues.  We are now organizing a Community Congress for August that will bring together our member organizations and hundreds of grassroots leaders from their communities. It will include know-your-rights, citation defense, and Community Watch trainings, as well as strategic planning on how we can combat discriminatory “quality of life” laws, enforcement, prosecution, and homeless courts on a regional level.

WRAP has also documented the impact of “quality of life” policing on over 300 self-identified homeless and mentally ill people in six cities.  Our research found that nearly 80% of the people surveyed had been stopped, arrested, or cited for “quality of life” offenses, 60% were harassed by Business Improvement District private security, and 29% had lost their housing or were discharged from a program due to incarceration. This coming June, we will use this research on a criminalization panel and Congressional briefing that are part of the National Center on Homelessness and Poverty’s Forum on the Right to Housing in Washington, DC.

We are in the beginning stages of building a movement.  The recession, jobless recovery, and gridlock in Washington, DC lay bare the bankruptcy of the current system. Never has the need and imperative been more critical to defend the due process and civil rights of those being criminalized as more of our neighbors are forced onto the streets.  But in the end “defense” is not enough. We must also assert a vision for the future that reflects our humanity and interconnection. We all need a safe place to call home, freedom from fear and want, nutritious food and health care to sustain our bodies, education and culture to expand our minds, and dignified work.

Throughout the many civil rights struggles in our nation’s past, communities have bound together to fight for a more inclusive democracy. The abolitionist, women’s rights, labor, civil rights, disability rights, and environmental movement have all shown that change happens on a large scale only when pockets of resistance create a network of support and solidarity. The collective resistance forming to the present injustice of “quality of life” laws is no different.

Will you join in this movement for a better quality of life for everyone?

Special thanks to Marlene Griffith, Casey Gallagher, Becky Dennison, Chani Geigle-Teller, Israel Bayer, Bob Offer-Westort, Janny Castillo, and Michael Diehl for their contributions to this article.

http://wraphome.org/pages/?p=1218&option=com_wordpress&Itemid=119

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WRAP [Western Regional Advocacy Project ] is proud to announce the release of our 2010 Without Housing Report Update.

Download It Here

It comes at a critical juncture for housing policy in this country as millions of Americans are homeless and tens of millions more are on the brink of economic collapse.

The updated report focuses public attention back on the #1 reason for the housing mess: the Federal Government’s divestment in affordable housing programs and deregulation of the housing market.

Most importantly, it helps people understand the complex issues fueling the crisis and provides a framework for turning the situation around.

In the next few weeks WRAP will be launching a housing rights campaign that builds off the update and these demands.

If you or your organization is interested in joining or learning more about the campaign, call Paul or Michael at 415-621-2533.

And please, support our work by donating now!

To order hard copies of the update, send a check payable to:

Western Regional Advocacy Project
2940 16th St., Suite 200-2
San Francisco, CA 94103

1 Report = $10
10+ = $8/each
50+ = $5/each

P.S. A Spanish version is on the way soon!

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REPORTS from only three days!

May 6, 2010

This morning I was wakened from sleep at around 7 in the morning by four men in uniform, led by Sgt. Swithenbank.

I was sleeping under the Bear Gulch bridge.

They told me they were having complaints about “you people”.

I said I wasn’t “you people” but they said yes I was.

They gave me a white paper notice of trespass warning with the County of Humboldt and Swithenbank’s name on it.

They said I would be arrested if they found me sleeping anywhere.

They photographed me with a board with my name, first and last, and something else written on it. I objected briefly before being photographed but one officer pulled out his handcuffs and said “I’ve been waiting to use these”.

I then let them take my photograph.

I wear glasses, I was not able to see the officer’s names. I know Swithenbank by sight; the others I think are new to our area.

I think referring to anyone as “you people” is stereotyping or profiling.

————————————————-

At about May 6, 2010 at about 7:30AM I was sleeping in my tent on the ridge north of Redway and I heard “you in the tent, come out”. I asked if I could put on my pants; he said no, come on out. I had long johns on so I stepped out.

I was surrounded by 8 officers, including a female.

The female was blonde and tall. The guy making demands was dark haired with a mustache and a chiseled, hawk like face. I did not get the names of the officers.

They asked what brought me to Humboldt County. I said “camping”. They said you’ve been camping for a while and I said I’d been ripped off by 3 companies and decided to live different.

They said I was trespassing on private property and asked me to produce my ID. I did. I had glass beer bottles containing water in my tent; I use glass bottles because they are safer and chemicals don’t leach into my water. They said “you’ve got your 40” and I told them it was water. Are you sure you aren’t making moonshine he asked. I was reaching in to get one of my water bottles and he yelled “hey, get out of there, you might have a gun”

I said “no, no, nothing like that”.

He said “Stand up, we’re gonna take your picture” They put a board with my name in front of me. One of the officers made a joke about my morning hair looking like a rooster and another officer said it was the best photo of the morning.

They gave me a white piece of paper and told me “If you’re here again it will be a fine. You have an hour to get out of here”. I told them it might take a little while longer.

They tazed someone the other day. I didn’t want to provoke them, there were 8 of them, and one of me and I was alone in the woods.

——————————-

From an Iraq veteran.

On May 6, 2010, yesterday, about 0700 me and my girl were already awake after staying up all night watching shooting stars on the hill a little north of Garberville. Swithenbank and his officers came out and gave us papers and teased us about being a couple. We had no garbage there, nothing, the camp was clean. There were 4 or 6 officers and animal control, they seem to want to just take the things homeless people have, and their dogs, and everything.

They ran our names to see if we had warrants. I don’t understand why they took my picture.

I’ve been cleaning up this town for years; they need to stop harassing us. I have a fiancé, I’m trying to keep things together.

They said we can’t camp down by the river either. They didn’t tell us where we could go.

I grew up around here and Redding, I was part of a homeschooled family. My grandpa died and I was left homeless.

I’m trying to start my life again.

Two years ago I got laid off 9 times; I was doing jobs I never did before, like welding.

—————–
from Vietnam era vet:

On May 6, 2010 at about 10AM I was sitting in my chair drinking a cup of coffee, enjoying the quiet morning. My cat alerted me that intruders were coming. Four deputies walked up into my camp. I saw them first, I said “good morning, how’s it going”. They asked if I had any ID. We don’t know if you are America’s top ten wanted, please have a seat (on the poison oak). They ran my name and told me I was camping illegally on private property and told me I was being issued a trespassing/littering notice. And that I should leave as soon as possible.

I told Swithenbank it would take me at least 24 hours to get things together (which I did, but I have to go back to get my cat).

They took my picture with a board in front of me with my name, as if I were a criminal.

They said they would come back and would be checking. If I were still here they would “have to take appropriate action”

One cop asked if I was on drugs like heroin or meth. I said no.
——————————————

9 Contacts from the raids on the homeless in SoHum
May 6, 2010 from 7AM till around 1PM

-Man at Bear Creek Gulch (just north of Garberville) contacted by cops with Sgt Swithenbank. Cops took picture, issued warning. Land owner Humboldt County (aka public property)

-Man at Redwood Drive by Bear Creek Bridge contacted by cops w/Swithenbank. Took picture, issued warning. Land owner Humboldt County(aka public property).

-Man Contacted by cops under Bear Creek Bridge, took picture. He’s from out of state: Swithenbank told him “to leave Humboldt county and if they come back he would go to jail”

-Young man contacted by cops at Bear Gulch. Cops took picture. Gave warning.

-Young man contacted by cops. Took picture, gave written warning.

-Man contacted by cops. Cops took picture, given warning.

-Woman contacted by cops at 10:45 AM. Cops took picture, gave warning. Contact was behind Blue Star Gas
(north of Garberville, near the freeway). Cited for no rabies tag on dog. Officer C. Nikolaus #99704. Cops were very rude.

-Young man contacted by cops behind Blue Star Gas. Cops took picture, issued warning.

-Man contacted by cops at Raven’s Cliff (Redway, above the river). Cops took picture, issued warning.
————————————————————–
Woman who was born in this area. Her boyfriend used to work for John Casali.

On Friday May 7, 2010 early in the morning around 6:30 we were in our tent about a quarter mile out of town (Redway). Police approached us and told us to get out of the tent. We did. They asked for our ID’s and our names. They said “We’re taking your pictures” and they wrote our names and dates of birth on paper on a clipboard and held it in front of us and took pictures. They did not ask our permission to take photographs of us.

They gave us a paper saying we were trespassing and that we should move immediately. They cited me for having a dog without a rabies tag even though I had mailed in my papers to get the tag.

We moved down to the other side of the road, to the bridge near Dean Creek.

Hamilton came by on Saturday, gave us till 9 AM Sunday to move and told us he was arresting us, but releasing us at the scene. Tresspassing and littering is what it says on the ticket, although we were not at the same location as we had been and were not littering.

Hamilton came on Sunday and gave us till 1 PM to move.

I get my food stamps here, and counseling, I was in a house
in Myers Flat for 4 years but now I am in a tent. I have no place else to go. I was born in Humboldt County. I feel I am being pushed from my home. I have Cherokee in me.

We keep our camps clean.
—————–
Ticket issued today, May 8, 2010 by Sheriff Deputy Hamilton for trespassing and littering. However, the circumstances were that the guy returned to the river bank with a few friends to have lunch there. There is a firepit; they were heating their lunch. They informed Hamilton they were just there for lunch, not to stay, but he said they’d been warned.

—–
more from May 8, 2010:

1) Man contacted by cops. Picture taken, warning given. He was on Public Land

2) Woman contacted by cops on public land. Picture taken.
————-

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On Tuesday, May 4, 2010 John Shelter awakened a couple sleeping outside in Eureka and gave them a NorthCoast Resource Center pamphlet. Then he told the couple, who have no other place to go, that cops were coming that weekend.

Shelter, who, for months, has been waking houseless people sleeping on public property in Eureka and stealing houseless peoples’ possessions (whether the people are present or not, leaving a written and false promise that the person can retrieve their gear and personal stuff if they CALL John Shelter) just received a huge grant to… what? continue his “work” ?…

Back to May 4th: John Shelter told the couple that they could get a certificate from the NorthCoast Resource Center (in Arcata) which would allow them to sleep there (a pass so the cops would not get them?), but the cops were to come on the weekend, and John Shelter told the couple to come get a certificate on MONDAY!!

Perhaps, John Shelter now has the authority to determine for the cops who is “deserving” or allowed to sleep!

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Body discovered at encampment

Written by Nick Grube, The Triplicate
April 21, 2010 06:35 pm

http://www.triplicate.com/20100421108779/News/Local-News/Body-discovered-at-encampment

A 50-year-old woman was found dead at a homeless encampment at the far eastern end of Fifth Street behind the Safeway grocery store Tuesday afternoon.

Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office authorities said it does not appear that foul play was involved in her death, and an autopsy is scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Toxicology results will probably not be available for several weeks after that.

The woman’s name was not available Tuesday evening, and Sheriff’s Office Commander Tim Athey said officials are waiting to confirm whether her next of kin has been notified about her death before releasing that information.

According to Athey, the woman was found dead inside her tent by another homeless person who was living at the encampment.

Crescent City’s temperature dipped as low as 46 degrees early Tuesday morning, and a steady rain fell overnight and throughout the day.

In the past three years, at least two other homeless people have died in the wetland area behind Safeway and Ray’s Food Place near Elk Creek.

Both individuals, a 31-year-old male and 47-year-old female, appeared to have died due to exposure to the elements.

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::: SIDEWALKS 4 PEOPLE PART II :::
::: SAT. APRIL 24 :::
::: ALL DAY / CITYWIDE :::
::: SAN FRANCISCO :::

WE HAD SO MUCH FUN ON THE SIDEWALKS ON MARCH 27th, WE MADE IT A MONTHLY RITUAL!

MORE INFO AT:
www.StandAgainstSitLie.org
.

:::WHAT::: SIDEWALKS ARE FOR PEOPLE is a monthly citywide celebration of San Francisco’s public space, its vibrant and diverse culture, and its tradition of tolerance and compassion. People from all walks of life, across the city, will be doing what they love on the city’s sidewalks: barbecues, chalk drawing, chess, yoga, reading, knitting, jumprope, playing music, painting, tea/coffee parties, sunbathing, meditating, DJing, hanging out, tai chi, hot tub parties, dancing, anything — you name it!

::: WHERE/WHEN ::: Gatherings will be happening all day in multiple locations across the city. People can post their events or find other events on the official map at www.StandAgainstSitLie.org.

::: WHY ::: The Board of Supervisors will soon be voting on a “Sit/Lie” law that would make it illegal to sit or lie on the sidewalk anywhere in San Francisco. We think it’s a really bad idea to criminalize the act of sitting in public space and that it’s a clear violation of our basic civil liberties. We think public spaces are safer when people are encouraged to use them to meet with neighbors, friends, family and others from the community. We like how our sidewalks reflect the diverse, vibrant culture
of our city. We believe in freedom of expression, the right to peaceably assemble, and the pursuit of happiness on our sidewalks!

We acknowledge and empathize with legitimate fears or frustrations that people encounter while sharing public space with others, but we do not believe that a sit/lie ordinance would address these fears and frustrations in a truly effective way. We are interested in participating in dialogue around real solutions they address core issues. For starters check out, A Very Different Approach to the Sit-Lie Law by Gabriel Haaland.

::: RSVP on facebook :::
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=112164578810394&ref=ts

::: WHAT CAN DO FOR SIDEWALKS ARE FOR PEOPLE? :::
Anything you want! Be creative — or not. It doesn’t matter! Just be sure to have fun on the sidewalk and invite friends, family, and neighbors to join you. Please avoid obstructing the free flow of our fellow San Franciscans! Take pictures and shoot video to document your event. Post your event on the interactive map at StandAgainstSitLie.org so that we can show that people all across our fair city love our public spaces.

We will provide you with some basic materials to hand out to curious pedestrians, along with tools to support you in orchestrating this in the most effective way. Other than that, we leave it up to you to organize the best event that you can. You can do whatever you want, but please do something!

CONTACT: info@StandAgainstStiLie.org if you have questions or would like to offer your skills and passion to help put this event together. Or call Andy at 415-533-4694.

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Tiny (aka Lisa Gray–Garcia) is a poverty scholar, revolutionary journalist, PO’ Poet, spoken word artist, welfareQUEEN, lecturer, Indigena Taina/Boriken/Irish mama of Tiburcio and daughter of Dee and the co–founder and executive director of POOR Magazine/PoorNewsNetwork in the San Francisco Bay Area.

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/04/04/18643798.php
Tiny (aka Lisa Gray–Garcia) is a poverty scholar, revolutionary journalist, PO’ Poet, spoken word artist, welfareQUEEN, lecturer, Indigena Taina/Boriken/Irish mama of Tiburcio and daughter of Dee and the co–founder and executive director of POOR Magazine/PoorNewsNetwork. POOR is a grassroots, non–profit, arts organization dedicated to providing extreme access to media, education and arts for youth, adults and elders struggling with poverty, racism, disability and border fascism locally and globally. Tiny is a teacher, multi–media producer, and author of Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America, published by City Lights.

She has innovated several revolutionary media, arts and education programs for youth, adults and elders including the first welfare to work journalism program in the US for poor mothers transitioning off of welfare, PoorNewsNetwork — an on–line magazine and monthly radio show on KPFA, and several cultural projects such as the Po’ Poets Project, Youth in Media, welfareQUEENs, and many more. She is also a prolific writer who has authored over a hundred articles on issues ranging from poor women and families, interdependence, and the cult of individualism to gentrification, homelessness, police brutality, incarceration, art and global and local poverty. For more information see http://www.tinygraygarcia.com.

Angola 3 News: How did POOR Magazine get started?

Tiny: POOR Magazine is a poor people led/indigenous people led grassroots, non-profit, arts organization dedicated to providing revolutionary media access, education and art to youth, adults and elders locally and globally

POOR the magazine was launched in las calles, welfare offices, social security lobbies, and shelters in 1996 by an Indigenous Raza mother and daughter team who barely survived homelessness, extreme poverty, disability, criminalization, racism and survived on underground economic strategies. We began with community journalism workshops focused on telling our own stories, reclaiming our own scholarship and redefining in and of itself what media even is and who controls it.

We practice eldership, ancestor worship and interdependence as a resistance to the destruction of capitalism, imperialism, colonization and white supremacy.

POOR Magazine defines indigenismo within an urban indigenous context of shared identities and shared struggles. We are landless African, Taino/ Boricua, Mexicano/Mexica/Raza, Iroquois, Pomo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Celtic, Hawaiian, Samoan, Jewish, Arabic, South Asian, Oaxacan, Guatemalan, Salvadoran and many more, We are Elders, Youth, Children, Mamaz, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Families and Individuals brought together through the shared struggle of poverty, survival and ‘thrival.

To this end, POOR Magazine has implemented the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples as a revolutionary resistance document. This is one of the ways we practice redefining the capitalist systems of oppression, philanthropy, the prison industrial complex , the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC), and systems of controlled and stolen resources, land and information.

In 1999, while my Mama and I were still “in the life” and while I personally was being told by my welfare worker that I needed to realize what a waste of taxpayers resources I was, taught myself how to write an RFP for a welfare to work grant to teach poor mamas like me and my mama how to be journalists, writers, and media producers.

I successfully mastered the linguistic domination skills necessary to reclaim those stolen government resources and give it back to the people. With it we were able to start our indigenous news-making circle (which up-ends the hierarchy of both independent and corporate media), our KPFA radio show, our on-line news service and our media training classrooms.

In 2002, we lost all of the government dollars when they saw that we were teaching people how to write about the very systems that were oppressing all of us (ie, the welfare to work locus of control).

This almost killed us—but we are not sorry that we reclaimed those funds. It would elitist and illogical. But that government-sponsored inquisition still almost killed us. And when the government dollars left, so did all of the philanthro-pimped private donations.

This tragedy led us to not only fight harder, but to build a curriculum around the myths of philanthropy, and launch The Race, Poverty, & Media Justice Institute as well as a completely new concept we call Revolutionary Giving.

A3N: How is POOR Magazine different than the corporate media? What kinds of stories will readers find?

Tiny: First of all, POOR Magazine is not just a media organization, we are a family of poverty scholars teaching on and speaking on issues of poverty, racism, disability, border fascism and indigenous resistance. To this end we have launched:

• PeopleSkool—Escuela de la gente—Education for ALL peoples outside the Institution.

• FamilySkool is our multi-generational teaching and learning project.

• The Race, Poverty, & Media Justice Institute teaches folks enmeshed in Akkkademia about different and other forms of knowledge and scholarship.

• POOR Press—the publishing arm of POOR Magazine—aimed at infiltrating the racist, classist publishing industry that demands a series of access channels.

• The Po Poets Project and the welfareQUEENS’ revolutionary poets and cultural workers in poverty and resistance.

• Hotel Voices is a play on the experience of surviving and thriving Single Room Occupancy hotels .

• HOMEFULNESS—our most important project—is a sweat-equity co-housing project for landless families in poverty, which includes a school, media center and micro-business projects. This has the goal of reclaiming stolen lands and resources and moving off the grid of controlled systems of housing and budget kkkrumbs. This project is informed by the teaching of MOVE founder John Africa.

As far as media, POOR Magazine aligns ourselves with other poor people led/indigenous people led movements such as the Shackdwellers Union in South Africa, POCC, and the MST (landless peoples movement in Brazil) who actively reject the ideas that someone else has to tell our stories for us, perpetuating the 21st century missionary/default kkkolonizers position that just because you have access to a computer, a micro-phone or a camera, our stories suddenly become your stories, your property.

We also resist the myth of objectivity and how if an author or media producer writes in the “I” voice it automatically takes away its legitimacy.

How do you ensure that the silenced voices of people in poverty are heard? By addressing the subtle and not so subtle ways in which our voices and research and scholarship is separated out and suppressed. We teach on our forms of media revolution and media justice at the Race, Poverty, & Media Justice Institute and PeopleSkool.

We redefine media as art, hip hop, graffiti, spoken word, poetry and talk-story.

All of our media, whomever makes it includes the lens and voices of the writers who have experienced positions of poverty and oppression first-hand. For our allies who have different forms of academic privilege, we also ask for the same inclusion of “I” voice and personal scholarship.

A3N: In regards to the issues of homelessness and poverty, what do you think are the biggest lies propagated by the corporate media?

Tiny: That we, houseless folks, are a tribe that walks the earth, rather than people who need a roof; That we are all criminal by design; That our voices are irrelevant and our solutions un-informed.

We at POOR no longer use the NPIC term, “homeless” because it is another way to turn our problems into profit for NGO’s and NPIC’s across the globe.

A3N: How does the struggle to abolish the prison industrial complex (PIC) relate to issues of poverty and houselessness?

Tiny: It completely relates. It is why I was incarcerated in Amerikkka and why I wrote the book Criminal of Poverty: Growing up homeless in America. It is illegal to be houseless in the US and arguably it is illegal to be poor. We have modern day apartheid and slave plantations called prisons, and they have to constantly feed this machine with fresh meat so the PIC industry can make revenue. Racism, poverty, and disability are all linked and are alive and well.

Throughout my childhood – my poor mama of color and I were houseless and living in our car, and I was eventually arrested for those “crimes.” I am light-skinned and look white even though my mama is Boriken, Taina and Afrikan. I look like my kkkolonizer dad, so I could lie to a landlord about being a single adult with a job and the landlord would accept it rather than that my mama was a hard worker who was responsible.

But it isn’t just houseless folks. Its migrant workers, youth of color, people in poverty living with a mental disability, micro-business people, foster youth and on and on. Our struggles against racism and criminalization are linked.

A3N: What are the most recent projects that POOR Magazine is working on?

Tiny: We just completed the very beautiful anthology, Los Viajes/The journeys, which is a beautiful compilation of peoples crossing over false criminalizing borders across pacha mama.

We are trying go to the US Social Forum and the Allied Media Conference in Detroit to lead a PeopleSkool workshop on media, akkkademia and research, as well as a forum on linguistic domination.

Also, we are gearing up for a new session of PeopleSkool in Summer 2010, and we launched the equity campaign to raise funds or acquire land for HOMEFULNESS- in 2010/2011.

–Angola 3 News is a new project of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3. Our website is http://www.angola3news.com where we provide the latest news about the Angola 3. We are also creating our own media projects, which spotlight the issues central to the story of the Angola 3, like racism, repression, prisons, human rights, solitary confinement as torture, and more.
http://www.angola3news.com

§The Race, Poverty, & Media Justice Institute
by Angola 3 News Thursday Mar 25th, 2010 7:21 PM


http://www.angola3news.com

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