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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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Tiny Homes: Homeowners’ and Developers’ Scam?

Any empty residential or commercial space should be used in this housing emergency to situate people in need. The only thing missing is the key — not a metaphorical key, the actual key to an actual space with heat, electricity, cooking and bathroom facilities, etc. No miniaturization, no shanty-town necessary.

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Compassion: A Solution to Oakland’s Homeless Crisis

So much compassion has been lost in our society. Many people have become desensitized to seeing homeless encampments. They remind us that the unexpected can hit any of us at any time. We can lose our job or suddenly get too sick to work. Many don’t want to think about this.

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The Significance of People’s Park — Now More Than Ever

People from all over the world were coming to the Bay Area for the poetry and music, for the recognition of Howl as free speech, and for the chance to participate in a cultural change that has never stopped, any more than has the university’s ham-handed efforts to repress it.

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The Desperate Housing Crisis in Berkeley

Every day I hear the desperation of people on the street. I worked as a community organizer for 14 years for BOSS, helping homeless people, but now I am jobless and homeless myself. I see how ineffective our housing policies are. We need a revival of street action and protest in Berkeley.

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Death in the West: Memorial for a Day Laborer

Roberto worked without medical coverage or a living wage. Not a cent went into Social Security for the aging worker. When he died in a doorway of the defunct U-Haul rental shop in at Allston Way and San Pablo in Berkeley, it took a day or so for anyone to notice.

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Oakland Officials Distort the Law to Punish the Poor

What a masterful demolition job. There is nothing like deploying the law to perseucte the poor — to crush them, silence them. You stripped Oakland’s recyclers of the right to their labor, the right to their freedom, and the right to eke out an existence on the margins of society.

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Panhandling in a Society That Worships Money, Not People

A panhandler does not get “something for nothing.” Being a beggar is not what I would call enviable. They must endure the danger of being harassed, jailed or beaten by police. They must deal with repeated rejection and insults. They must deal with the elements — hot weather, bitter cold, rain or wind.

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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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.