The July 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Oakland Youth Organize

Hate Crimes Against the Homeless

Food Bank Helps Ease Hunger

Food Bank Keeps Growing

San Diego's Economic Cleansing

Psychiatric Abuse and Repression

Transit Activists Win Victory

Technology for the Poor

Violent Arrest at City Hall

The Dream of People's Park

New Richmond Shelter to Open

Street Spirit Vendor Tony McNair

Bush's Tax Cuts for the Rich

Corporate Benedict Arnolds

Rain Lane's Photographs

"Say Something" A Short Story

Poor Leonard's Almanack

Poetry of the Streets


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.

Oakland Youth Organize for Justice

by Janny Castillo, BOSS

Youth from Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond rally to defend the bus fares so essential to poor families. Janny Castillo photos

"My grandparents gave us unconditional love. They took care of me and my younger sister. I was taught to have hope and faith and I realized early on that I had a greater purpose -- to take care of my community and to help my people." -- Fadeelah Muhyee, youth organizer

For youth growing up in Oakland, and immersed in an environment where drugs are prevalent, violence is the norm, and misery is in control, it can be difficult to see the way out. Twenty-year-old Fadeelah Muhyee has found a way out and is trying to reach in and pull many of her peers out, too. Fadeelah knows how difficult it is to survive on the streets; in the last two years, she has lost over 10 friends, ages 20 to 30.

I interviewed Fadeelah recently in a cyber cafe in the Philadelphia Convention Center at The Second National Summit on Equitable Development, Social Justice, and Smart Growth. We were among 1,300 participants who came together from across the United States to hear discussions on advancing regional equity in transportation, housing, and employment.

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Helping Ease the Crisis of Hunger in Alameda County

by Carol Harvey

Suzan Bateson is the director of the Alameda County Food Bank. Lydia Gans photo

It seemed "a horrible thing for our culture that we would allow this to happen," Bateson said. "These people were the ages of my peer's parents. I know how hard they worked throughout their lives. No one wants to ever think of their grandmother standing in a food line."

Your stomach rumbles. You don't have enough money to feed your family. You are not alone. While the nation spends billions on war, hunger and poverty increase in America, and lower-income workers earn less.

America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest hunger relief organization, serves 23.3 million different people annually and seven million people weekly. About 45 percent of those served are forced to choose between food and utilities; 36 percent chose between food and rent/mortgage; and 30 percent choose between food and medical care. Children under 18 make up 39 percent of recipients, and 11 percent are elderly.

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Rise in Hate Crimes and Violence Against the Homeless

by Michael Stoops, National Coalition for the Homeless

For the past six years, from 1999 to 2004, the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) has tracked and reported on a disturbing increase in crimes targeting homeless people. These violent attacks on homeless people, one of our most vulnerable populations, result in injury and, in many cases, death.

The well-documented affordable housing crisis is not the only crisis to affect the millions of people who are homeless every year. There is also an increasing pattern of civil rights abuses and violence directed at the homeless population. Homelessness is no longer simply an issue of the right to affordable housing, but a matter of life and death. As the danger of living without a home increases, the lack of federal housing resources as well as the absence of the political will to end homelessness becomes increasingly more shameful.

In October 2004, three Milwaukee teens murdered a homeless man at his forest campsite. The teens hit 49-year-old Rex Baum with rocks, a flashlight and a pipe, before smearing feces on his face and covering his body with leaves and plastic.

More on this story

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