Homeless leader speaks on homeless realities

Occupiers at Liberty City, Berkeley City Hall in California. PHOTO/SARAH MENEFEE

Occupiers at Liberty City, Berkeley City Hall in California.

Editor’s note: These are posts that Mike Zint, of ‘First they came for the homeless’, wrote on social media on the realities of life on the streets and the movement for homeless rights and the right to housing. He recently led a tent occupation of Berkeley City Hall, which was covered by the People’s Tribune and other media.

Mike Zint:

“During police sweeps you have a few minutes to save your belongings if you are lucky. Cities have no intention of preserving or keeping it for you. The intention is to purposely steal it as punishment for being homeless in public. To fight back is impossible. You need money to do that. Or lawyers. And good luck getting a lawyer. They want big bucks.

Things I used to own: baby pictures, multiple warm sleeping bags, cell phones, computer, extra clothing, back packs, inhalers, and a jewelry making set up that took years to develop. Zero charges, zero arrests, and this has happened multiple times.

Why do they do it? Because there is no room for poor people anywhere. Harass them, steal from them, abuse them, torture them, and maybe they will move along.

Class warfare waged by Chambers of Commerce, commercial districts, business associations are the reality. And it won’t stop until enough people get screwed by the corrupt, greedy system!

“Homeless people get almost no choice. Shelter system, sleep on the sidewalk, hide a tent. Shelters are one step above jail. Abuse by staff, violence, lice, bed bugs, exposure to illness, these exist in shelters. So, is it really a choice?

Sleeping on the sidewalk (exposed) is horrible too. Cardboard for meager insulation, no padding except for a sleeping bag, no privacy except what exists between your nose and the blanket you are hiding under. Yes, hiding is accurate. For mental stability, privacy and security are needed. When a blanket was what l had, that little space had to do. Fear never leaves either. Will I get rousted by cops? Robbed? Beaten? So, the longer you live this way, the worse your mental state becomes.

So, hide a tent is left. This works until you are found. When found, your gear is usually confiscated. You are ticketed. And you spend the next few nights in a shelter, or on a sidewalk exposed.”

“Spread the word. Two cities torturing the homeless now have homeless uprisings. Throughout history, it has been the poorest, most beaten down people who rose up in rebellion. This history will repeat.

“The population is the enemy when the police are militarized. The proof is in the violence, killings, illegal detentions, and lack of accountability. “I’m scared for my life” has become the mantra for murder. Dogs and cats are not even safe. Next year, it will be worse. And it will not change until we make them change. A few thousand protesters will not do it. A few million will get some attention. A national strike will win the day.

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