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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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.