Editor’s note: This formerly-homeless veteran of the Occupy movement and the streets, a regular contributor to the People’s Tribune, wrote these words on the ongoing sweeps of tent encampments in San Francisco, which have been stepped-up since the removals from downtown San Francisco during the corporate-giveaway parties during the recent Superbowl. They are part of the ongoing wave of extreme gentrification and removal of poor people from San Francisco and all over the Bay Area. These mean-hearted sweeps have sparked outrage and gotten the country and the world’s attention.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Okay let’s just be honest about what is going on in this city . . . This city does not care about homeless people—all the men, women, and children who spend their nights on the streets or in shelters. They started with the sweeps on Division —forcing people to leave who had no better place to go —and now SFPD are conducting raids against the homeless in the surrounding areas for violation of camping ordinances. The message here is clear: leave or die —because we will literally make your life intolerable through sleep deprivation, constant harassment, and we will deprive you of the things you need to achieve a bare minimum of comfort and dignity while living unsheltered on the streets.
The city pretends to care by doing little things so they can appear to be helping, and politicians like the mayor and Supervisor Scott Wiener say that they care, but their words are meaningless because their actions clearly show where they really stand. The fact that there aren’t enough shelters for the homeless population in San Francisco, coupled with the criminalization of homelessness and poverty, only perpetuates trauma for homeless individuals, and continues the harassment and torture by both DPW [Department of Public Works] and SFPD.
People say it’s irrational for cities to behave this way -—because it is inefficient in solving the problem of homelessness. It doesn’t help people and it isn’t cost effective for the city itself. So, what motivates this criminalization of the most vulnerable population of the city? The politicians and decision makers truly do not care about the welfare of homeless people, and are working actively to either push them out of the city through constant harassment and torture, or eradicate them by making their attempts at survival so futile they simply die out. This is disgustingly inhumane. We cannot allow people to look away from this reality. If this is not the world you want your children to grow up in, then it is time to say something and do something about it now.