Protest to Tackle Homelessness outside Super Bowl City SF
Bellow large banners pasted on buildings and sky scrapers that said things like ‘Visa’ and ‘Verizon’, there were smaller banners held by human hands that said things like ‘people’ and ‘poverty’.
The #Tacklehomlessness Protest outside Super Bowl City attracted national press coverage, from CNN to Time, they came out to see representatives and supporters from the Coalition on Homelessness and many other local advocacy groups who were standing up against government corruption, police brutality, and perhaps above all, our city’s greed in the face of its most impoverished.
In a city with so much wealth, with so many creative and hard working minds, you think we could find a way to give those less fortunate, the most vulnerable, the homeless citizens of San Francisco, some dignity and support. Instead, the Mayor takes a policy of removal, sends out government workers to confiscate the tents from people without shelter, and spends 5 million dollars of the taxpayers money to erect a corporate strip mall in downtown San Francisco, with around the clock security.
– There’s 1 shelter bed for every 6 homeless people
– There are 8,000 homeless households on the waitlist for public housing
– 3,300 Children make up SF’s homeless poulation
– 61% have disabilities
– 11,000 citations were given to homeless for resting in SF last year
The protest began with about a hundred police officers in riot gear, and a police megaphone telling protesters that if they set down their tents they would be confiscated, so the supporters held them in the air in defiance. Meanwhile across the street at Super Bowl City, there were plenty of tents, hell they let the corporations erect makeshift buildings in our public space, they even paid to have our police protect them around the clock.
“Poverty is not a crime”. San Francisco, one of the richest cities in the world, is changing very quickly. And rather than work to preserve what made the city special in the first place, it’s policies continue to empower the super rich to control and manipulate the city and its population, forcing the poor and middle class out.
Protesters railed against our city government’s policy of removal and harassment toward our homeless population.
Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition stood up as well, and rallied against Police brutality and reppresion
Latina voices, Black voices, Asian voices, White voices, a true community of supporters from the Bay Area were heard.
Others who participated, or organized, or spoke, or chanted, or held tents above the ground in defiance of City Policy were, Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, Laura Thomas from the State Drug Policy Alliance, Father Richard from the Gubbio Project, Kelly Cutler from the Coalition On Homelessness, Paul Boden of WRAP, former CA Assembly member Tom Ammiano, Tiny from POOR Magazine and many many others.
The SFPD really brought the cavalry. I’ve been to few protests in my day, but I’ve never seen a police response like that. I can’t imagine how much they spent on overtime alone, there were hundreds of cops to keep protesters out of their corporate mall, and armada of vans, motorcylces, squad cars and even bomb sniffing dogs.
Protesters marched around the Super Bowl City chanting things like
“Hey! Ed Lee! No Penalty for Poverty!”
We, the people of San Francisco, demand that Super Bowl City and Ed Lee pay and invest $5 million right now in housing – we could house 500 people immediately with that money.
We also demand the use of publicly-owned assets, such as the empty Pier 29 or 80, or the land under the Freeway at 101/Cesar Chavez, and create monitored programs that support secure sleep, hygienic toileting, and access to transition/healing services.
We want an end to the criminalization of poverty and the continued violations of poor people’s civil and human rights. All resources currently being used for law enforcement of anti-homeless laws must be immediately re-directed to housing and support services.
After marching around the city and arriving back to the Ferry Building, the band kept the protest going:
Broke-Ass Stuart had this to say after the protest: “I am really really proud of my community tonight. There were thousands of people out to #TackleHomelessness“.
All Photos by Alex Mak