Open Letter to the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission
Peace and Justice Commission
Eric Brenman, Secretary
2180 Milvia Street, 2nd Floor, Berkeley CA 94704
& Secretary Andrew Wicker, Commission on Homeless
Yesterday, July 1st, 2015, at around 10:30 a.m., I witnessed a Block by Block “ambassador” sweeping directly around and within inches of a man who was curled up under a blanket near the curb on Shattuck Avenue at Kittredge.
I had witnessed this strange sweeping harassment technique by the Block by Block employees personally twice before and had hoped that the commission’s focus on the Block by Block program employees’ abuses might have curbed it, but clearly this people-sweeping “beautification” technique continues to be used to harass people with lots of belongings with them and/or people who are trying to get some rest.
There was plenty to clean elsewhere in the area, but the employee continued to sweep directly around the body and belongings of the man with the blanket and his friend, who stood quietly watching in amazement as did I.
He and his friend were told they had to move, and they did move, quickly gathering their belongings.
By the time I got my camera out, she moved her broom and dustpan down into the gutter and began sweeping there, which is not quite as offensive, but she definitely was being instructed by Lance Goree, who was nearby watching carefully while pretending to clean a phone booth.
He seemed to be speaking into some kind of microphone.
He turned his back and walked away from me when I tried to take his picture, but circled back to watch again as the men picked up their things and left.
I hope your Commission will renew its request to have Block by Block employees refrain from this kind of “beautification” activity. It demeans us as a community to have people treated like trash.