Archive | June, 2017

A Journalist in Defense of Human Rights

“At night when you’d be sleeping, you’d hear the spectral sound of the shopping carts outside in the streets. I’d think to myself, ‘Who is out there at 3 in the morning by themselves with a shopping cart?’ Just the loneliness of it was hard to ignore.”

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How to Save a Life

On the street, I see someone who looks like my brother, dresses like him, moves like him. For a moment, I suspend the truth and say, “There’s my brother.” The moment passes too soon. But there are many who suffer still, and I try to treat them like brothers, for my brother.

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The Street Spirit Interview with Amir Soltani

People wanted the recycling center gone because they just didn’t want the poor around them. It’s a game of Monopoly in which everybody’s interests are linked to the price of real estate, without the slightest concern about what speculation in land prices does to communities.

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The Debate Over Tiny Homes: Ask Those Who Have No Home

Living on the streets is dangerous and debilitating. People’s meager belongings can be stolen; they can be assaulted. If we listen to people who are currently housed but have experienced periods of homelessness, it is clear that the effects, physical and psychological, have never left them.

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Remembering Dave Linn: An Attorney for the People

It is hard to defend high-profile People’s Park defendants in a contemporary legal world. It is hard to be the one man in Birkenstocks surrounded by Italian suits. But Dave Linn took the cases most people would assess as unwinnable, and gave them his full attention.

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Out on the Street, Hope Is Out of Reach

I recently spent the night at the homeless encampment near West Grand Avenue in Oakland. We sat on milk crates on a cold night, and we ate sandwiches while I listened as they talked about their fears, despairs and why help takes so long to reach them.

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Sidestepping Democracy: A Berkeley Tradition Lives On

The anti-panhandling law, the anti-sitting law, the two-square-feet-of-possessions-only law, and the proposal to equip the smoke-free downtown with ashtrays have one thing in common: the Downtown Berkeley Association. This unelected group was given a free hand in crafting contradictory and unconstitutional legislation.

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Next Step in Santa Cruz: Task Force on Homelessness

Several wondered why service providers and members of the homeless community were not included in the preparation of the report. The Task Force must include the faith community, neighborhood groups, local businesses, advocates for the homeless and, most importantly, members of our local homeless community.

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Society’s Failure to Care Is the Root of Homelessness

In one of the richest places in the world, people become so wrapped up in their own comfort and status that they don’t care about the human beings they are stepping over.

Visionary Art of Leon Kennedy

In Leon Kennedy’s painting, his living friends are portrayed next to long-gone elders and assassinated civil rights leaders. Even death does not shatter the bonds of love and community.

Welcome to Homelessness

The worst thing about homelessness, I sensed, would have nothing to do with bad weather, hunger or sleep deprivation. It would be the way I soon would be cast out like a leper, as though one would contract a deadly disease just from being in my presence.

Big Money Spends a Fortune to Fight Rent Control

Wealthy landlords, realtors and developers have teamed up and are spending a fortune to fight the efforts of renters to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act, the law that severely limits the rent control options of California cities. Tenants have also launched rent control campaigns in 10 California cities.

Vicious and Cruel Assault on the Poorest of the Poor

Elected leaders of the national tenants union denounced the housing bill proposed by HUD Secretary Ben Carson as a vicious and cruel assault on the poorest of the poor. “Millions will be displaced if these deeply cruel proposals see the light of day. Congress should reject them out of hand.”

The DBA’s Assault on Free Speech in Berkeley

The DBA launched a new poster destruction policy, despite being warned it was unconstitutional by the City Attorney. Tearing down fliers is a textbook example of a free speech violation. No one has the right to make content-based distinctions about what is allowed to be posted or said in legal, public places.