Friday, April 22, 2016

People the city doesn't want are refusing to be silenced

On April 7, officers of the San Francisco Police Department shot and killed Luis Gongora-Pat, a resident of a tent encampment where people were living on the street in the Mission. Mayor Ed Lee responded to this outrage by calling for "sweeps" -- forcible destruction of the tents and belongings of homeless people all over the city. In the days after the Gongora's death, police harassed and dispersed witnesses and his neighbors from the encampment.

On Thursday, people with experience living on the streets spoke out in Clarion Alley on the city's ongoing effort to push them out of sight and mind.

Bilal Ali, Human Rights organizer for the SF Coalition on Homelessness explained:

Homeless and street-based San Franciscans have been surviving these ongoing sweeps for months and in some cases years. ... the city is continuing this failed police of displacement rather than listening to us homeless people as we state the logical solution to the growing crisis which is housing. Luis Gongora would still be alive had he been inside. Bottom-line.

Mike Lee brought news of sweeps in Berkeley where he lives on the street and is running for Mayor. He's an impressive orator.

Here seen laughing with a friend, Elaine (l), has been enduring street sweeps since 2010. She reminded listeners:

... we have forgotten what America is supposed to be about ... we're supposed to be about loving each other. ... give us a home and we'll show what love is about.

According to the Coalition on Homelessness, the city has only 1300 shelter beds, less than one bed for every five homeless people. And a shelter is not a home ...

Across Valencia Street, activist hunger strikers demanding that Chief Greg Suhr be fired set up camp in front of the Mission Police Station.

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