UC Berkeley Graduate Discovers the University of the Streets

Even though I was fortunate to have received a great education at UC Berkeley, the education I received on the streets as a homeless man shortly after graduating was even more enlightening.

Blues for the 99 Percent

In churches and juke joints, singing held the community together as Jim Crow oppression threatened to keep people confined in a slavery-like caste system. Songs conveyed things too dangerous to speak about — long work hours, low pay, and unfair racist bosses.

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The Freedom Sleepers Demand Repeal of Camping Ban

“As a 1961 Freedom Rider, I served 39 days in the Mississippi penitentiary fighting discrimination. I and others will continue to resist discriminatory local ordinances which forbid individuals a place and opportunity to sleep. We call upon our City Council to find a way to alleviate homeless suffering.” — Rabbi Phil Posner

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Business Improvement Districts and ‘Broken Windows’

The broken windows theory of policing conceptualizes poor people as things to be removed and not people who are struggling to survive. In San Francisco, Business Improvement Districts utilize private security forces and city police to harass and banish homeless people from Union Square.

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Resistance to Police Violence and Racism

Although several deaths of young African American men at the hands of the police have received a great deal of publicity, hundreds more police-inflicted deaths have not been reported. Across the nation, police officers who have killed innocent African-American men are rarely punished by racially biased court systems.

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Selling Street Spirit Changed His Outlook on Life

Ralph is facing some major challenges now. Social Security and government assistance won’t go far in providing food and shelter for him and his wife while she is disabled. Getting out to Berkeley Bowl with the Street Spirit every day will keep up his spirits and a roof over their heads.

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The Questions About So-Called Affordable Housing

Many people already question whether so-called affordable housing projects in Oakland and the Bay Area are really affordable to most disabled persons receiving their income through SSI, or for retired persons receiving Social Security. It is evident that all too many are not truly affordable to low-income people.

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The Brave New World of Centralized Intake in Berkeley

One can’t help but notice that all this wrangling over intake forms, coordination, and “centralized intake” hasn’t managed to produce any additional low-income housing or shelter beds. Berkeley’s last low-income housing expenditures were about 15 years ago, and involved rehabbing some already existing low-income housing units.

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All Shook Up: How Human Beings Are Turned into Categories

When highly diverse individuals are lumped into a single category, the result is terribly misleading. In the composite picture in the minds of those who promote anti-homeless laws, many different sorts of people are merged into one. The ensuing discussions get shipwrecked because nobody is having the same discussion.

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Orwell Foresaw the Rise of Surveillance and Loss of Freedom

Orwell’s chilling prediction of omnipresent surveillance has already come true in many ways. With modern technology, it has become feasible to conduct round-the-clock surveillance of far greater numbers of people on a more massive scale — and with far less effort — compared to what Orwell described in 1984.

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House Keys Not Handcuffs: Homeless Organizing, Art and Politics

Police use laws against trespassing, panhandling, loitering, vagrancy and disorderly conduct to punish poor people and exacerbate their misery. They also confiscate their meager possessions, bringing additional despair. Homeless people are an irritant to public officials and a fruitful source of arrest statistics for police departments throughout the nation.

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Artist’s Portraits Reveal the Human Faces in Our Midst

I realized that bringing them to life in drawings was quite unique, seeming to have more joy in it than I’d ever experienced before. Walter was delighted. Nate always greets me now with a thankful smile. Donald, the very gentle one, spoke proudly and warmly when pondering his portrait.

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DBA Ambassadors Sweep People Away ‘Like Trash’

Block by Block “ambassadors” utilize a strange sweeping technique to harass people on the streets. I hope the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission will request that Block by Block employees refrain from this kind of “beautification” activity. It demeans us as a community to have people treated like trash.

The Homeless Reservation

I surmised grimly that I was to be put into the Homeless Reservation. I had never heard of anyone leaving there, alive or dead. People disappeared, never to be heard from again. Politicians had arrived at what they believed to be a final solution to the “problem” of homeless people.

Unethical Medical Experiments on U.S. Citizens

The United States has an epidemic of ill health due to excessive drugging. The American people are considered a giant pool of experimental subjects for massively wealthy drug companies. Many persons diagnosed with mental illness are experimented upon, often without their consent and against their own best interests.

August Poetry of the Streets

She closes the door/ of her studio/ by Dolores Park/ hands the landlady/ (who jacked up her rent/ damn near double)/ the key/ “If anyone should ask/ tell them I won’t be back/ to Cable Car land”/ and begins her long/ wandering inside/ America’s abandoned/ homes

Right to Rest Advocates Converge on San Francisco

Right to Rest Protest against Business Improvement Districts on July 31,2015 @2015 Janny Castillo/ www.boonachepresents.com/

Advocates for the Right to Rest converged on San Francisco on July 31, 2015 to organize for the passage of a homeless bill of rights in California, Oregon and Colorado. The Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) convened the actions and meetings with representation from San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Denver, Fort Collins, Portland, Eugene and other west coast cities. More photos and videos at: www.boonachepresents.com/

Blockading the ‘White Train of Death’

A reporter warned Jim Douglass that he had observed a train north of Seattle that looked like it was “carrying big-time weapons.” The reporter added that the heavily armored, all-white train looked like “the train out of hell.”