The February 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC Website AFSC Economic Justice site Create Peace at Home (BOSS)



In this issue:

Mary's Death Shows Evictions Can Be Lethal

Mary's Friend Describes Last Night of Her Life

Bush Plan to Privatize Social Security

U.S. Government Has No Solutions to Poverty

What Would Martin Luther King Jr. Do?

The Mosque That Sheltered Jews

The Least, the Last and the Lost

Labor Needs New Radical Vision

Berkeley Fails to House the Poor

Protesters and the Poor: A Failure to Communicate

When They Get Behind Closed Doors

U.S. Media Treat Losers Like Dirt

Poor Leonard's Almanack

Blessing, Begging and Grace

Cruel Medical Practices

Blind Faith in the White House

Poetry of the Streets

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 Message of Mary Jesus

The suicide of Mary Jesus was a prophetic warning, written in blood and death, that rent hikes and evictions destroy the lives of the poor.

by Lynda Carson

Photo of Mary Jesus by Daniel de Leon

On December 10, 2004, tragedy struck downtown Oakland, when a 33-year-old woman who felt brutalized by Oakland's kangaroo courts plunged to her death from the Oakland Tribune Tower.

Mary Jesus, a longtime Oakland renter, had a message that she wanted to get out to the public at large, and she was willing to sacrifice her own life to do so.

On that fateful day, Mary Jesus stood high above the crowd down below, and gazed upon hundreds of people gathered on the sidewalks beneath the Tribune Tower, as they shouted out to her not to do it. Local attorney Bob Salinas was one of those in the crowd that tried to save her as he frantically yelled to her not to jump.


A Prophetic Warning About Deadly Effects of Eviction

Editorial by Terry Messman

Photo of Tribune Tower by Lydia Gans

"I worry all the time like I never did before.

I ain't got no home in this world anymore."
- Woody Guthrie

Shortly before Christmas, Mary Jesus found that she had no home in this world anymore. Her landlord had raised the rent and then evicted her from the Oakland apartment she had lived in for 13 years. After her release from a brief stay at John George Psychiatric Pavilion, Mary Jesus found herself alone on the stark streets of Oakland, with no home in this world.

Although she had fought a valiant and lonely struggle against the eviction, she found herself homeless at Christmas time, just as the Biblical Mary and Jesus were without a home on the first Christmas.


If She Hadn't Been Evicted,

She Would Still Be Alive

A remembrance of Mary Jesus from a friend who gave her refuge on her last night on earth.

by V. Vale

I'm known as a punk rock book publisher in some circles; and for this reason Mary Jesus called me up, out of the blue, back in 1999, wanting me to publish a book by her. She called late at night and we talked for several hours. She told me she had been a hardcore punk rocker starting at age 15 when she ran away from home, and began telling me anecdotes about the punk underground scene.

She was very intelligent, witty, charming and acerbic - absolutely full of ideas and opinions on everything wrong with society and the world. So I listened. Every couple months she would call me up, always late at night, and we'd talk for hours. She was very entertaining.


1515 Webster St,#303
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 238-8080, ext. 303

E-mail: Spirit

© 2002-2005 STREET SPIRIT. All rights reserved.

Published by American Friends Service Committee

Editor : Terry Messman

Web Design: Robert Mills, Web Weaver CyberB Solutions