The January 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Religious Witness with Homeless People

Memorial for Homeless Deaths in East Bay

Remember Rosa Parks: Justice in Public Transit

Justice is Pushed to Back of Bus

Big Brother Watches the Poor

Homeless Woman Works to Survive

Let Justice Roll: Raise the Miserly Minimum Wage

Richmond Courts Unfair to Poor

War Profiteer Parties Hearty

Poets Against the War Machine

Poems for the Poorman

Poems in Spirit of St. Francis

Songs of Our Shared Humanity

Psychotic Breaks

How to Deal with Pain and Fear


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.

Religious Leaders Protest S.F. Mayor's Persecution of Homeless People

by Casey Mills

Members of Religious Witness with Homeless People defend the human rights of homeless people in San Francisco.

"We cannot ethically or practically accept this contradiction: highly publicized care for a thousand people and the quiet persecution of thousands of others. In a civilized community it is not, and cannot, be a crime to be poor." -- Rev. Schuyler Rhodes

Since entering office, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has received little but praise from the city's media, presenting the public with a portrait of a compassionate friend of the poor. Yet last month, a group of some of San Francisco's most respected religious leaders gathered to highlight the contradictory aspects of Newsom's homeless policy, including a dramatic spike in the number of citations issued under his administration for sleeping outdoors.

While these religious leaders lauded some of Newsom's achievements, they renewed their request for a meeting with the mayor to discuss how he could create a truly compassionate plan for solving homelessness. Newsom refused their request -- the fourth time he's done so -- leaving many homeless advocates questioning his image as a caring leader.

His refusal also forced the city's religious leaders, led by Religious Witness with Homeless People's Sister Bernie Galvin, to begin drafting a resolution that would call for an end to his current practice of aggressively enforcing "quality of life" ordinances against thousands of homeless people. The resolution, along with the unified voice of religious leaders decrying the mayor's practices, are now threatening to severely tarnish Newsom's compassionate image.

More on this story

The Nameless and Faceless Deaths in Our Midst

by Janny Castillo

A vigil was held at St. Mary's Center in Oakland on December 21, 2005, to honor homeless people who died on the streets of the East Bay. Lydia Gans photo

"We know we have lost brothers and sisters like us. They had names. But they died nameless. John Doe -- what kind of name is that for a man?" -- Rev. Ken Hamilton

On December 21, 2005, a group of about 50 people stood in a circle in St. Mary's courtyard in Oakland. The sky was cloudy and dark and people stood shivering in the cold. Rev. Ken Hamilton spoke about the dead whose names were not known. "We know we have lost brothers and sisters like us," he said. "They had names. But they died nameless. John Doe -- what kind of name is that for a man?"

How many did we lose this year? How many homeless people did we lose to cold, to hunger, to violence, to sickness? The answer is lost in the cold winds of winter. Hundreds or thousands in California, tens of thousands in the nation. Homeless people seem as difficult to count after death as they are when alive. The real question is: How many have to die before real help is available to our poorest and most vulnerable? The answer should be, if it has to happen at all, let it be only ONE.

More on this story

Swollen Aching Feet
by Judy Jones

last night i had a dream
which today came true

not one person
died homeless
on cold concrete streets

everyone had a pillow
on which to lay
their precious heads

there were angels
dressed in white
oh so tenderly
washing their
swollen aching feet

and beings of supernatural light
were at their sides
nourishing their bodies
minds and spirit-souls
for they had finally
found a home

suddenly my soul
took flight
straight into heaven's doors
it did soar

and i could see clearly
that the homeless person
living and dying
on earth's coldest concrete streets
was my father mother
sister and brother
and me

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

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