BEATITUDE/ Believing that love/ silently expressed/ will be heard/ and silently answered,/ we need not celebrate/ by trumpet blast,/ tambourines, a dance/ around the block,/ need not kneel to pray/ in the garden of moonlight./ Love/ in its own quiet way/ feels like enough.
Our society doesn't want to be inconvenienced by someone who is suffering or is impoverished. As a disabled person, it feels as if I have been penciled out of existence by some grand authority, one which expects me to disappear into nothingness, or end up jailed, homeless or just dead.
I have been thinking again about the French notion of liberty, fraternity (though now we’d say solidarity) and equality. I think I understand in a new way that these can be taken not just as political values, but also as a partial guide to how to conduct our lives.
No politician wants to be accused of working to eliminate jobs! So, the pressure to keep the prisons full is great. Criminalizing homelessness could be seen as a double win — keeping the prisons full while also “solving” the homelessness issue by giving homeless people beds in prison.
“With the current market and the housing crisis, we’re seeing landlords and investors taking advantage of the weak legal protections, exploiting the holes that exist in the law in order to turn a quick profit,” says Daniel Saver. “In the wake behind them, there’s a trail of human cost. It’s destroying communities.
Laura’s Law criminalizes mental illness and is spreading like cancer across California, county by county. Those labeled “noncompliant” can be subjected to forced medication and court-ordered involuntary treatment. In essence, they become captives of the criminal justice system even though they have committed no offense.
Our entire community, unhoused and housed alike, is living in the Shadow of Bell v. Boise. Homeless people are being criminalized in violation of their Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The hope is that we can all emerge into the sunlight, equally free.
Thanks to the initiative of homeless people, the sleep-in grew into several weeks of relative safety for people otherwise being shoveled out of parks like trash or hustled off public streets by the merchant groups’ hired patrols. The homeless people developed a functional government and crafted “no drugs or alcohol” rules.
I had been homeless for two years in Berkeley and the things bound up in the protest reminded me so strongly of my own sentiments while I was without housing in this city. So I borrowed a sleeping bag and I headed over to the occupation at Old City Hall.