Berkeley’s political and business leaders have ducked public scrutiny of their support for the sitting ban. But in a statement to Street Spirit, the mayor has admitted he put the sitting ban on the ballot because merchants demanded it. In Berkeley, human rights can be violated if it pleases the merchants.
“This isn’t some problem of bored kids from Oregon coming to Berkeley for the summer,” said Pattie Wall. “This is our problem, these are our kids and we have a responsibility to them — and our responsibility to them doesn’t include arresting them for not having any place to go.”
Despite the self-congratulatory myths of city officials, Berkeley is not generous toward the poor, nor is it a haven for free speech. Systematically destroying low-income housing and creating inventive ways to target the poor is mean-spirited, not generous. And it is a simple recipe for homelessness and hardship.
Many Berkeley citizens have come out against this egregious attack on the civil rights of homeless people. Berkeley City Councilmembers Kriss Worthington, Max Anderson and Jesse Arreguin have shown us that not all members of the council have been corrupted by the baleful lure of big-time developers and their filthy lucre.