A Quaker’s Ceaseless Quest for a World Without War

After a lifetime of civil rights sit-ins, blockades at nuclear plants, and acts of anti-war resistance, David Hartsough remains a utopian believer in peace and justice. His latest campaign is perhaps the most quixotic of all. It dreams the impossible dream of a world that has abolished war.

Young Artists Take Stance on Prisons

“We cannot truly exercise our freedom until we allow everyone to be free, and most important, free ourselves. ” — Julia Tello

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The Street Spirit Interview with David Hartsough, Part I

People would spit at us in the face. They put lit cigarettes down our shirts, and punched us in the stomach so hard we would fall on the floor, and then they kicked us. The American Nazi Party came, yelling white supremacist nonsense and telling us to go back to Russia.

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The Street Spirit Interview with David Hartsough, Part II

Governments have the power to throw us in jail and shoot at us and intimidate us, but they don’t have the power to kill our spirits. They certainly didn’t kill Brian’s spirit. Nuremberg Actions show what people can do to stop our government from fighting wars and causing misery around the world.

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West Grand Hotel Sued by City of Oakland

The West Grand Hotel has been sued by the Oakland City Attorney for slum conditions and dangerous code violations.

Oakland Attorney Andrew Wolff has clients at the West Grand Hotel and said: “This is the worst housing condition I have ever encountered in my practice, and the level of tenant abuse is obscene. I commend the City of Oakland for taking this place down.”

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United Nations Condemns Criminalization of Homelessness in the U.S.

The art of Art Hazelwood reminds us that the constitutional rights of homeless people are constantly violated by political officials and the police.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination stated it is “concerned at the high number of homeless persons, who are disproportionately from racial and ethnic minorities and at the criminalization of homelessness through laws that prohibit activities such as loitering, camping, begging, and lying in public spaces.”

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A Journey of Peace in Korea and Vietnam

During his recent trip to Vietnam, David Hartsough met mothers and children suffering from the effects of Agent Orange.

People on Jeju Island have been resisting the construction of the U.S. military base. For the past four years, they have been nonviolently blocking bulldozers and cement trucks coming onto the base. Every day there is a Catholic Mass in which priests and nuns block the main entrance to the base.

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A Republican’s Sojourn on the Street

Neel Kashkari spent seven days sleeping on park benches but managed to not disturb any of his free market, anti-regulation Republican principles. If he’d stuck with it a little longer, he would have learned that the tattered safety net for which he has such disdain needs more, rather than less, funding.

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Gimme Shelter!

A homeless man sleeps on the sidewalk in Santa Cruz. Almost no thought is being given to all those left without shelter.

The 2013 Homeless Census and Survey reported that about 3,500 men, women and children are unsheltered in Santa Cruz County every night. That number is acknowledged by the census takers themselves to be underestimated by as much as 50 percent! Fewer than 700 shelter beds are available in the entire county.

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Predatory Psychotherapists from Outer Space

Disabling the mind’s higher functions in the name of therapy.

The psychoanalyst had an agenda. Jonathan had been found to be too intelligent. Janice Williams, the therapist, had been told to use an intelligence reducing unit during the session. Janice’s commander, who went by a number and not a name — Alpha Centauri aliens didn’t use names — had ordered John’s intelligence reduced.

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How a Community Was Scattered to the Wind

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

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.

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.

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”. 

Laura’s Law and the Danger of Forced Detention

“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”

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?

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.”

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.