Archive | November, 2015

Defending Freedom of Speech in Berkeley

It is absurd that the Downtown Berkeley Association, representing the wealthiest property owners in town, is taking public money to pay a private patrol to tear down the posters of poor artists, activists and community groups. We’re paying them to tear down our posters — and rip up the First Amendment.

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Before the Deluge

Instead of focusing on solutions to the loss of homeless services in Santa Cruz, the council has decided instead to pave the pathway to criminalization. The council majority has no capacity to resist the Not In My Back Yard ravings of hostile people promoting greater fear of these roofless, powerless folks.

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On the Origins of Broken Windows Policing

Broken.jpg WRAP members protest the International Downtown Association’s support for Broken Windows laws. Jess Clarke photo

George Kelling was well aware that his “Broken Windows” policy could lend the force of the police to the enforcement of prejudice. Kelling utilized a real-estate metaphor to provide justification for discriminatory law enforcement, directed at poor and homeless people and aimed at “quality of life” crimes.

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Cities that Criminalize the Poor Risk Losing HUD Funding

Santa Cruz police surround activist Robert Norse at the sleep-out near City Hall. City officials have criminalized the essential act of sleeping. Alex Carocy photo

It’s one thing to show the fallacy of giving tickets to people with no money, and wasting police resources on issues which would disappear if everybody had somewhere to live. But HUD is offering to share two billion dollars in federal funding with cities —if they stop criminalizing the poor.

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More Anti-Homeless Laws on the Way on November 17

Art by Mike “Moby” Theobald

Just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the City of Berkeley is turning its back on the Department of Justice and HUD guidelines and embracing more anti-homeless laws. This new slate of anti-homeless laws will be considered at the City Council meeting on the evening of Tuesday, November 17.

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Santa Cruz Mayor Questions Anti-Homeless Laws, Calls for Compassion

Bag.jpg Freedom Sleepers stage a protest with sleeping bags outside Santa Cruz City Hall. Alex Darocy photo

Where is a person who attended Santa Cruz High 15 years ago and who is now broke and troubled and living on the streets supposed to sleep tonight? What purpose is served when an unsheltered, impoverished person gets a citation for sleeping outside? Is that having any positive impact on homelessness?

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Activist Responds to Santa Cruz Mayor’s Open Letter on Homeless Issues

The mayor could ask the city manager and police chief to stop all citations of those sleeping, covering up with blankets, camping outside or “being in a park after closing.” He could publicly state he believes the public has the right to be at City Hall after dark in peaceful protest.

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The Shape-Shifter and the Psychiatrist

Poster art courtesy Madness Network News

Dr. Baker asked, “Where did you learn this ability?” “There is a training complex on Mars,” I replied. The nurse and the psych tech chortled involuntarily. Dr. Baker glared and said, “Maybe a jolt of electroconvulsive would zap some of that smart-ass out of you.”

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November Poetry of the Streets

“Could you please help?” Robert Terrell photo

Anthropologists study/ street people, find them/ humane, kindly, humble —/ a dog in lap, parrot on a/ shoulder, a young man/ sleeping, curled like a baby./ A raggedy baseball cap/ silvered with small coins./ Passing poets wonder:/ Is it unlawful to be human?/ But lawful to be inhumane?

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Writing for the Street Spirit: My 17 Year Journey

Writing for Street Spirit has awakened in me a sense of responsibility toward others. Street Spirit is a way for people silenced by big money and big media to have a voice.

Animal Friends: A Saving Grace for Homeless People

“I wrapped her in my jacket and promised I’d never let anybody hurt her again. And that’s my promise to her for the rest of her life. In my mind she’s a little angel that saved me as much as I saved her.”

A Testament to Street Spirit’s Justice Journalism

The game was rigged against the poor, but I will always relish the fact that Street Spirit took on the Oakland mayor and city council for their perverse assault on homeless recyclers. For me, that was hallowed ground. I will never regret the fact that we did not surrender that ground.

Tragic Death of Oakland Tenant Mary Jesus

Being evicted felt like the end of her life. As a disabled woman, she saw nothing ahead but a destitute life on the streets. She told a friend, “If I’m evicted tomorrow, I have no choice but to kill myself. I have no resources, no savings, no money, and nowhere to go.”

They Left Him to Die Like a Tramp on the Street

Life is sacred. It is not just an economic statistic when someone suffers and dies on the streets of our nation. It is some mother’s son, or daughter. It is a human being made in the image of God. It is a desecration of the sacred when that life is torn down.

Joy in the Midst of Sorrow in Santa Maria Orphanage

This amazing priest not only housed 300 orphaned children from the streets of Mexico City, but he also took care of 20 homeless elders in his own house and started a home for children dying of AIDS. Father Norman also ran a soup kitchen that fed many people in the village.