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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Resurrection of the Poor People’s Campaign

Rev. Barber told the activists gathered in the nation’s capital that by demonstrating in solidarity with poor people, they had become a link in the long history of people who fought for justice.

Hate Crime Laws Needed to Protect the Homeless

As homelessness becomes more visible, people living on the streets are targeted for bullying, assaults, harassment and even murders.

Life Is A Precious Gift: Mother Teresa’s House in Washington

We will never know how many huge pots of soup Jacob lifted with the sisters into trucks, to take to the homeless in the park. We will never know how many diseased bodies he fed, held and bathed, and the number of tears he dried in the early morning hours.

Mother Teresa’s Gift of Love in San Francisco

She took home with her the men who had only a few days left to live and were suffering the most, and tenderly cared for them around the clock. I am certain some of the people I was meeting were angels, whose job was to make certain no soul died alone and unloved.

My Back Pages: A Song for Miss Kay

She softly sings the soul anthem “Stand By Me.” It is a song for Miss Kay, a song for all of us. Her life, with its music and joy, followed by a downward slide into homelessness and death, tells us something deeper than words about the human condition.

My Back Pages: Kerry’s Kids, An Undying Dream

Oakland pediatrician Dr. Karen Kruger said, “Kerry’s death was so sudden and seemingly purposeless and shocking that I think there was a need for people that loved her to carry on her memory in a way that she would look down on from her cloud and be happy about.”