Archive | June, 2011

Mass Imprisonment: The Moral Equivalent of Jim Crow

Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination are suddenly legal, including job discrimination, housing discrimination, and denial of the right to vote.

Read More Comments Off on Mass Imprisonment: The Moral Equivalent of Jim Crow

Creative Sit-In Challenges Berkeley Sitting Ban

A unique, quirky and imaginative protest was held at the Berkeley BART on May 22 to protest the City Council’s proposed sitting ban ordinance. Called a “Chair-a-Pillar,” the colorful act of defiance summoned forth a powerful historic echo of past sit-ins for civil rights.

Read More Comments Off on Creative Sit-In Challenges Berkeley Sitting Ban

Building a Movement to Reclaim Public Spaces

Same-day protests were held in San Francisco, Berkeley and Portland to challenge laws banning sitting or lying by homeless people. These “copy-cat laws” travel from city to city, as municipal officials copy each other’s efforts to erode human rights by making it illegal for poor people to exist in public.

Read More Comments Off on Building a Movement to Reclaim Public Spaces

Glimpses of the Spirit – Paul’s Pendant

Contrary to everything our society teaches, the Masters of War and the Wall Street bankers are in a rat race for last place. Instead, the meek will inherit the earth. As Bob Dylan warned, “The order is rapidly fading, and the first one now will later be last.”

Read More Comments Off on Glimpses of the Spirit – Paul’s Pendant

Town and Gown Join Forces to Oppose Sitting Ban

Human rights include not only civil rights, but economic rights as well. George Lippman, chair of the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, said, “Nothing defines the right to human dignity more clearly than such elemental human needs as the right to sit, the right to rest, the right to eat.”

Read More Comments Off on Town and Gown Join Forces to Oppose Sitting Ban

Poetic Resistance to the Berkeley Sitting Ban

Poets held a poetry reading to challenge the City Council’s proposed sitting ban. How delightful it would be if we could just sing our way right past this terrible proposal to outlaw something as natural as sitting down. We should pour enough poetry on it that it is doused entirely.

Read More Comments Off on Poetic Resistance to the Berkeley Sitting Ban

Oakland Tenants Are Targeted for Displacement

Oakland tenant Aiyahnna Johnson said, “They caused us a lot of stress and anxiety in our community by trying to frighten us out of our housing. They have been trying to pressure us into signing documents in an effort to force us to move out of our homes.”

Read More Comments Off on Oakland Tenants Are Targeted for Displacement

Churches Should Offer Sanctuary for the Homeless

If every Christian was raised to meditate on three words, “Jesus was homeless,” churches would be true places of refuge, shelter and sanctuary, open to everyone. When cities enact laws that criminalize poverty, the homeless become refugees who must be offered sanctuary and asylum from unjust laws.

Read More Comments Off on Churches Should Offer Sanctuary for the Homeless

June Poetry of the Streets

“Mona Lisa of the Streets” I gave the woman a simple smile,/ some dollars, knowing not enough./ Her aura glowed: she once had style./ I gave the woman an open smile/ then plowed my way, single file/ holding tears, keeping the bluff./ I have Mona Lisa a knowing smile/ some dollars that were not enough.

Read More Comments Off on June Poetry of the Streets

A Life Consecrated to Compassion and Justice

On the bleak streets of the Tenderloin, a sister took a stand against inhumanity. Her solidarity was inspired by the beatitudes and consecrated to the poor.

The Invisible Natural Cathedral of People’s Park

Builders, please go away. Allow the beauty of an Invisible Natural Cathedral to remain, a living shrine of open space that gives refuge to all people.

Street Spirit Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin

This atrocity was happening in a very wealthy city. It was happening right under our noses. It was very visible. And there was not the united voice of the faith community speaking out. That was the spark of Religious Witness. From that moment, I knew what I had to do.

Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin, Part Two

“What’s forming in my mind is Jesus in the temple when he became angry at the unjust and very exclusive systems of society. That is the very reason that there are the poor and the marginalized. It is not enough just to provide food, clothing and housing.”

‘Such Is the Magic and Spirit of People’s Park’

The mayor has no understanding of the awful defeat the loss of People’s Park would be. No comprehension of the cost in lives and the sacrifices people have made for the Park’s ideals. So many still find it a refuge in a country needing a political and spiritual overhaul.

I Remember Who I Am

“And Now Where?” Lithograph by Rockwell Kent

By and by, I calm down. I meditate. I pray. It is a beautiful day. The sun is setting. I weave my way toward the spot where I sleep, where nobody knows where to find me. I look to the stars, and say my prayers to the God who believes in Me.