The June 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Court Upholds Legal Rights of Homeless People

Hunger Rises, Food Stamps Cut

National Hunger Survey

Union Busting in El Salvador

CEO Pay Rises, Worker Pay Shrinks

CEOs Scheme to Privatize Social Security

Dee's Story: The Stigma of Being Homeless

Bush's Chronic Homeless Plan

Pepperspray and Torture

How Earth Day Was Co-opted

St. Mary's Center

Life Stories of Homeless Seniors

Hodges Jones

Jose Querdo

Jeannette Hundley

James Jermany

Ken Minor

Lynn Hoberg

Social Justice in the East Bay

100 Teachings of Gandhi

June Poetry of the Streets

Students Poetry


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.

Hunger Rises, Food Stamp Funding Falls

by Carol Harvey

Due to federal budget cuts, East Bay activists are feeding more hungry people in longer meal lines. Photo by Lydia Gans

"To propose removing hundreds of thousands of hard-working, low-income people from the food stamp program is anything but compassionate."

The stunting effects of prolonged hunger on the bodies, brains, and futures of children are well understood. If lack of proper nutrition persists, one may feel hunger or learn to ignore it; but in the end, one loses one's health, and finally one's life. Bread for the World Institute, a Christian citizens' nutrition justice lobby, put out an analysis of Bush's Domestic Nutrition Initiatives for fiscal year 2006. It noted that, even as Bush's federal budget proposes food stamp cuts, hunger and poverty are on the rise.

Bread for the World stated that recently released Bush Administration data illustrate that "for the fourth straight year there are more people in the U.S. struggling to feed their families. However, a careful analysis of the president's fiscal year 2006 budget request shows that he proposes cuts to the food stamp program by $500 million over the next five years."


Nationwide Survey of Hunger in America

by Lydia Gans

A really heartbreaking finding of these national hunger surveys is the number of children who experience hunger. In the three surveys, 39 percent, 40 percent and 43 percent, respectively, of people receiving food assistance were children under 18.

As part of a nationwide survey on hunger in America, Alameda County Food Bank volunteer Phil Liston interviews a client, Rosalva Bermudez. Photo by Lydia Gans

We here at Street Spirit write a great deal about homelessness. But homelessness is only one aspect of poverty in America, only one measure of the gross inequity between the rich and the poor, of the growing gap that is making us look more and more like a Third World country. Another consequence of poverty is hunger.

It's not so easy to show hunger. We don't have emaciated people or children with big bellies roaming our streets; but it is a fact that there are significant numbers of people, including children, right here in America, who do not get enough to eat.


Court Victory Upholds Legal Rights of Homeless People

Arcata judge finds a homeless man not guilty on charges of illegal camping and blocking sidewalk

by Robert Norse

Rocked by an electoral, police, and bureaucratic backlash against homeless people last month, Arcata activists were cheered by a recent court victory. Michael Scott Porter, an environmental activist who was also homeless, was found not guilty of illegal camping and not guilty of obstructing a downtown sidewalk in a ruling by Superior Court Judge W. Bruce Watson. Two years earlier, on June 10, 2003, police had cited Michael Porter for "camping," that is, survival sleeping in nearby Redwood Park when there was no legal shelter in Arcata.

After four court appearances and nearly two years, Judge Watson held a two-hour court trial where pro bono attorney Tracy Herrin defended Porter. After listening to testimony from two police officers, an expert witness on the availability of homeless shelter, and Porter himself, Judge Watson issued a rare written and published decision finding Porter not guilty. Porter was also found not guilty of a second citation for "obstructing movement" by sitting on a downtown sidewalk in an alcove with his guitar.


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