The November 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

A Day to End Poverty

Death Behind a Dumpster

Rebirth of Union Power

Threats, Lies and Videotape

Frances Townes Dedication to Justice

Bob's Blankets

Legal Victory for Fresno Homeless

Suitcase Clinic in Berkeley

Susan Prather Receives the Jefferson Award

Santa Cruz Merchant Abuses Homeless Man

Economy Booms for Billionaires

Unions Are the Solution to Our Unjust Economy

Russians Who Work with Homeless Youth

Jack the Ripper: First Serial Killer of Street People

Right to Exist

Poor Leonard's Almanack


October 2006

September 2006

July 2006

June 2006

May 2006

April 2006

March 2006

February 2006

January 2006

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005

Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

Santa Cruz Merchant Torments Terminally Ill Man

by Tim Rumford

It is a sad day in Santa Cruz when a terminally ill person is forced to live on the streets, only to be told how useless and unwanted he is. But that is what happened to Shane Maxfield, who was harassed by a merchant, and forced to call the police for help -- only to receive the opposite.

On September 26, Shane Maxfield sat close to LuLu Carpenters, a local coffee shop. Shane was obeying all laws regarding panhandling, including the legal restriction to stay ten feet away from the property. Shane held a sign that read: "Temporarily houseless due to fire. I offer Free Tech Service! Email me! Windows XP Support, Mac Support. Terminally Ill, very sick! Thank You!"

Shane has AIDS, and is truly very ill. He lost his home after a fire, and does do tech work for people, working for free for people who are homeless or simply broke. Shane lets people choose whether they wish to speak to him and help him.

This day, Shane was there for about an hour when Manthri Srinath, LuLu Carpenters' owner, came out and ordered him off the mall. He then got right in Shane's face and began a rant of threats and abusive language. He said to Shane, "We don't like your kind here. You are a freeloader. I can ruin your whole life!"

Shane asked who the man was, noting he did not have a badge. Shane stayed in a sitting position during the entire incident.

At one point, Shane lost control of his anger after the repeated threats and said "you fucker." Manthri Srinath refused to tell him his name and continued to harass and threaten Shane. He paced back and forth, telling the homeless man how he could make Shane's life a living hell.

Shane called the police, and although Srinath claimed to have called them as well, the police confirmed to me that Shane was the only one to call. Police Officer Jeffery Caldridge said that because Srinath did not threaten his life that he broke no laws. Yet Srinath had threatened Shane by saying, "I will ruin your whole life." Caldridge also noted that Shane was legally present, and was obeying all laws regarding panhandling.

Shane had called his caretaker for a rescue prior to his call to the police. He was shaken and unable to leave on his own. The police then forced Shane to listen to more of Srinath's tirade. The shop owner continued to use threatening language in front of Officer Caldridge.

The officer then told Shane, even though the homeless man was adhering to the law, that if he did not move along, "he smelled a ticket coming his way."

While Shane waited for his ride from his caretaker -- his rescue -- he was given a ticket for panhandling while using offensive language, a citation issued by the same officer he called for protection.

I am concerned about these laws and the apparent police collusion regarding this issue. After calling 911, Shane wanted, needed and deserved protection from an abusive and threatening merchant. The police failed in protecting Shane's rights.

I consider this a hate crime and abuse by a police officer who was called to protect Shane Maxfield, not Srinath. Srinath has a history of such offenses, including throwing hot coffee on a protester and on a homeless man in his own establishment.

Police are supposed to be here to help every human -- not just storeowners. I understand the issues the storeowners face with the large homeless population we have, but Manthri Srinath's actions are not the way to treat any human being.

One more thing: Step up and step out of LuLu Carpenters for good! Three strikes, they are out.

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