Oakland adopted “Love Life” as its motto. It is another way of saying “Love thy neighbor” — even if you live in a luxury apartment and your neighbor lives in a homeless encampment.
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For Kayla Moore, a black, transgender woman struggling with mental illness, contact with the Berkeley police was a death sentence. Within minutes, this charismatic, adventurous woman was suddenly dead.
“We’re still struggling as a species with how we can stop war. The families (of Vietnam veterans) were so grateful that anybody would acknowledge their sacrifice. And I don’t mean sacrifice in a clichéd way. The war had reached out and struck their family in a horrible, terrible way.”
I knew a lot of the people had to escape or they were killed by the junta in Chile. It was just tragic and terrible. I had grown up with a full knowledge of the viciousness of imperialism from my socialist parents. So I knew that, but I was still shocked.
To their great credit, it has been the homeless community itself that has continued to spend their Tuesday nights in front of City Hall regardless of weather and in the face of unabated harassment by law enforcement. July marks the One Year Anniversary of the Freedom Sleepers Sleepouts in Santa Cruz.
A vocal group of housed residents demanded that the City of Oakland shut down a recycling center. Their emails stated that “those people” walking down “their” streets are a nuisance, a torment with which with they could not live. They succeeded. As of August 2016, that recycling center will close forever.
The entrepreneurship program began running outdoor sales three years ago by taking tote bags and other products designed by Youth Spirit Artworks to sell in front of the Berkeley Bowl. That turned out to be popular with the shoppers and provided needed income for the young people.
Like Ulysses, the homeless wanderers of Dogtown Redemption were exiled for years on journeys through a landscape of deprivation and despair — an Odyssey on the streets of Oakland.
My son lives on the streets of Oakland. Legs painful and swollen, health compromised by Hepatitis C and heart damage, he pushes a cart full of other people’s trash in the darkest hours of the night.
She is the 4-foot-10-inch fireball pushing a shopping cart down the streets. She has been homeless for too many years to count. She is barely surviving. She loves and loses. In the end, she is the broken body in a Highland Hospital bed, after being beaten in her sleeping bag.
In a broken and trembling voice, she sings “Stand By Me.” Yet her protector has died homeless on the streets and will never stand with her again. It is a song for Miss Kay, and it reveals the staggering impact of this loss on a fragile heart.