“Art in Jail” by Jos Sances. Serigraph, Edition 120, 8 color, 22” x 30”“Art in Jail” by Jos Sances. Serigraph, Edition 120, 8 color, 22” x 30”

Laura’s Law and the Danger of Forced Detention

How much sweeter “Laura’s Law” sounds than Forced Detention or Treatment! Yet it all sounds an awful lot like the usual government arguments used to justify surveillance, control, invasion of privacy. Who is to say this new law won’t be used to punish and isolate the indigent and the ill?

Bulldozer.jpg Albany officials sent in bulldozers and haulers to demolish the homes and destroy the belongings of scores of homeless people at the Albany Bulb. Lydia Gans photo

How a Community Was Scattered to the Wind

At 4:30 a.m., the police came, 30 of them. Armed with assault rifles, they broke down our front gate, tore down the door to our living space and arrested us for lodging. Our home was destroyed, our puppy was taken to the pound and our possessions were scattered to the wind.

Recent News


Oakland Gives Green Light to Massive Gentrification

Gentrify.jpg The proposed mixed-use infill development in Opportunity Area 2, along Oakland’s historic 7th Street commercial corridor. Poor people are conspicuously absent in this picture.

The West Oakland Specific Plan will target Opportunity Sites for redevelopment and maximum exploitation by wealthy developers. Low-income people need not apply, and have been abandoned to fend for themselves once this gentrification scheme gains traction. Prologis Inc. and California Capital Investment Group are spearheading this gentrification scheme.

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Exposing the Untold History of Psychiatric Atrocities

Photo by R. Valentine Atkinson, reprinted from The History of Shock Treatment, by Leonard Roy Frank

Over its history, Street Spirit has published a series of in-depth reports on many different kinds of psychiatric abuses that have been carried out in the name of healing, yet often end up damaging and disabling people for life. In light of renewed calls for forced psychiatric detention under the guise of “helping the mentally ill,” we are collecting and re-publishing these stories in a new section “Psychiatric Abuses and Human Rights”. 

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Laura’s Law Passed by S.F. Board of Supervisors

Shadows on the wall. A dance of liberation from dehumanization in locked psychiatric wards. Art by Tanya Temkin

“I really feel that if we move forward without full and adequate funding of our mental health system, this may be leading to a false hope of safety in our neighborhoods,” said Eric Mar. “And I worry that there’s a danger of further stigmatizing people with mental illness.”

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The Artistic Vision of Charles Curtis Blackwell

His eyesight was severely damaged in an accident when he was young, yet Blackwell’s love for jazz and the blues shines through in his colorful paintings of musicians. To overcome the obstacle of his near-blindness, he stands extremely close to the canvas, his eyes only inches away from his brush strokes.

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The Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2014

Who Drives The Cycle of Poverty?” Art by Doug Minkler

According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are 1.2 million homeless students in public schools. HUD’s restrictive definition of homelessness has created a vicious cycle. An estimated 921,176 homeless families and children are left out of the HUD definition and do not receive the help they desperately need.

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More U.S. Cities Make It Illegal to Be Homeless

“No Safe Place: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities” is a new report by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

A survey of 187 cities finds a startling rise in laws that criminally punish homeless people for engaging in necessary, life-sustaining activities in public, even when they have no other options. More cities are banning these activities in the entire community, effectively making it illegal to be homeless anywhere in the city.

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How Developers Are Milking the Housing Crisis for Profit

This is how homelessness happens. These absurdly small, dorm-style, windowless nightmares are efforts by developers to capitalize on the housing crisis. Absolutely no more square footage in the densely populated town of Berkeley should be squandered on any proposal that makes no effort to address the housing crisis.

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A Plan to Establish Homeless Courts in Santa Cruz

Will homeless courts offer a more humane alternative to the punitive approach of the criminal courts? Art by Osha Neumann

The time is right for a new holistic approach to justice that enables homeless people to lead fulfilling lives in their community. Whether it is in the name of social justice or criminal justice or restorative justice, the Homeless Court program will advance human justice for those in our city experiencing homelessness.

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Society Excludes and Denies Employment to Disabled Persons

“Will Work For Food.” Painting by Christine Hanlon.

Panhandling is intrinsically no less honorable than many socially acceptable professions, such as working for financial companies that offer predatory loans to desperate people. Another dishonorable, but respected job is inventing weapons in the aerospace industry that could one day facilitate the demise of life on our planet.

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They Refused to Let Justice Be Crucified

On the same day that Medgar Evers was murdered, there was also a larger Tri-State Conspiracy to assassinate Bernard LaFayette and Rev. Benjamin Cox.

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Bernard LaFayette’s Long March from Selma

Bernard LaFayette’s long march has taken him from organizing disenfranchised black residents in Selma, to training disenfranchised prisoners in Kingian Nonviolence.

His Heart Is Always with the People on the Street

“I don’t want to be another paper shuffler sending people to go here and there. They get plenty of that already. If I’m to connect people to mental health services or housing, there needs to be some significant investment in that. That’s why I’m not going to give up the social justice thing.”

Activists Stage Jack London’s Radical Anti-Capitalist Novel “Iron Heel”

“The Iron Heel” is the strongest articulation of Jack London’s emerging anti-capitalism and may have been the first dystopian science fiction novel. The Iron Heel Theater Collective, a group of artists, activists and organizers, have brought it to life using puppetry, painted picture-story cantastoria banners, readers theater and live music.

Homeless Advocates Are Targeted by Fresno Police

Pastor Chris Breedlove and other homeless advocates have been publicly smeared by the Fresno Police Department. City officials have demolished every encampment in Fresno and destroyed tons of homeless people’s belongings. The policy of the Fresno Police Department is to refuse to allow any homeless encampments to re-emerge.

Creating Community on Skid Row in L.A.

“We hang out here because we’re not allowed in the upskirts of downtown. Some of us aren’t permitted because of the way we look. People have a label on us. They see me as a person who eats out of a trashcan.” — Linda Harris, a cancer survivor who lives in Skid Row

U.S. Court Strikes Down Law Prohibiting People from Living in Vehicles in Los Angeles

The U.S. Court of Appeals sent a strong message across the nation that cities cannot attempt to make homelessness illegal by making it impossible for homeless people to survive by staying in their vehicles. Countless homeless people have been forced to use their vehicles as a shelter of last resort.