The April 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Murder of Mary Katherine King

Eyes Wide Open

California Lifts Food Stamp Ban

The Ordeal of Ramona Choyce

Republicans Shred Disabled Housing

Art and Activism of Jos Sances

The Paintings of Jos Sances

Gambling with Social Security

Billionaires Grow Richer, Poverty Worsens

Existence Itself Is Banned for the Homeless Poor

Bush Policy Errs on Chronic Homelessness

Sankofa House: A Rainbow for Homeless Women

Student Summit Against Hunger

A Lifetime at the Bus Stop

Working for Transit Justice

Poor Leonard's Almanack

BOSS Community Organizing

The Anguish of Classism





May 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.

The Murder of a Homeless Woman in Berkeley

Picture yourself as a homeless woman trying to sleep on the streets on the night after news of Mary Katherine King's murder became public

by Terry Messman

Artists have pasted these stark images of "Preventable Deaths" to warn the public that homeless deaths are a tragedy that could be prevented. Photo by Lydia Gans

The brutal assault and murder of a homeless woman in downtown Berkeley brings into sharp focus the terrible dangers faced by women living on the streets. Homelessness is a dangerous and even life-threatening predicament for everyone who undergoes it. But because of their vulnerability to the ever-present threat of assault, rape and murder, homeless women face a heightened risk of violence and death on the streets.

Mary Katherine King, a 45-year-old woman who had a master's degree in history and had worked as a teacher before becoming homeless, was sleeping near the corner of California Street and University Avenue in Berkeley. While she slept, all alone, four men came up to her after midnight, and two of them kicked her in the head and beat her into unconsciousness.

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Eyes Wide Open: The Human Cost of War

by Lydia Gans

A vast field of empty combat boots at San Francisco City Hall offers an unforgettable image of the human costs of the war in Iraq. Photo by Lydia Gans

On March 26, 2005, 1525 pairs of empty boots were arranged in orderly lines on the lawn at San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza and up the steps of City Hall. Each pair of boots bore the name of an American killed in the war in Iraq. Along the sides, a memorial wall and countless pairs of shoes represented Iraqis of all ages who have died in the war.

The exhibit, "Eyes Wide Open: The Human Cost of War," has been set up in more than 50 other U.S. cities. "Eyes Wide Open" is a project of the American Friends Service Committee, publisher of Street Spirit, and an organization committed to peace and community service.

A number of eloquent speakers who have experienced deep, painful losses due to the war spoke at the exhibit's opening. As they spoke, with lines of empty boots behind them, many listeners were profoundly moved - to sadness, anger and a resolve to take action to end the war.

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California Lifts Lifetime Ban on Food Stamps for Drug Felons

by Carol Harvey

"Children who go to school hungry are more likely to fail. Those who fail are more likely to drop out. Those who drop out are more likely to find themselves in the criminal justice system. Here we see that our failed policymaking produces failed results."-- Mark Leno, State Assembly

The rich and powerful often have a close personal relationship with addictive substances. Every month or so, it seems, a famous Hollywood actor is caught with drugs. Neither media figures nor politicians are exempt. Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh recently entered rehab to dry out from addictive, illegally obtained pain pills.

America's foremost born-again Christian, President George W. Bush, was known to have abused alcohol. His former sister-in-law, Sharon, tattled to tabloid biographer Kitty Kelly that, at Camp David during his father's presidency, the younger Bush used the drug of choice in high social circles -- cocaine.

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