I have seen something quite remarkable start to develop over the last few months. In the face of increased pressure on working people to find decent housing, some of the most hard-pressed people in the Bay Area have not only been standing their ground against threats of eviction—they are also traveling across neighborhoods to support comrades in other struggles doing the same.
The United States misappropriates resources (including the human ones) in a business-as-usual profit over people custom. For decades, the U.S. prison industrial complex has embraced tough-on-crime legislation to branch its growth through the incarceration of its citizens. One of the many downsides of this policy is the increase in people living in squalor while others are “sheltered” in the name of public safety.
In January 2016, me and my daughter started feeding our unhoused neighbors in the streets. Little did we know that simple sharing would evolve into a crew of 70 people called Feed The People. Who knew that Feed The People would transform into a movement called The Village, which fights to decriminalize homelessness, builds emergency shelters, asserts that housing is a human right, and joins the call for another model of urban development that does not displace lifelong residents of The Town.
At 4 a.m. on December 28, the University of California cut down 40 trees in People’s Park, arguing that they endangered public safety, or at least blocked the light. The “long-deferred maintenance”, as a UC Berkeley statement describes it, was initiated without any warning to neighbors, park supporters, and community members. In the weeks since, the University’s demolition of the trees has continued—as of the end of January, they have cut down at least 42 trees.
It’s simple. Public sidewalks are too crowded for homeless people, but wide enough for waddling robots and monolithic, data-sucking electronic sidewalk billboards with 65-inch screens. Public sidewalks are dangerously over-filled with backpacks and bedrolls but have a sad aura of being deserted without unpermitted signboards, tables, chairs, and rolling racks of commercial merchandise.