Nasty New FB Page Makes Fun of SF Homeless People
Guest Post by Kate Torres
There’s something to be said about Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron Saint for which our city was named after.
First off, this guy was a radical feminist who dedicated his life to the preservation of the environment. His ideologies weren’t far from the leftist ethos that exists in our modern day society – he was the Bernie Sanders of 13th century Italy!
One other amazing fact about our main guy St. Francis was that his entire life was dedicated to those in destitute. As a man who purged himself of his earthly means at a young age, he believed whole-heartedly that the best way to live a fulfilling life was to work with and for those who had been abandoned.
St. Francis didn’t shy away from lepers, he embraced them. He preached a life of humility that boasted no financial gain. The central part of his creed was divesting oneself from power and wealth. He wore a tattered tunic with no shoes and both he and his followers lived in evicted properties and used them as a space for worship.
That’s right people, our city was named after a homeless guy.
I would like to say that San Francisco is worthy of such a name. That we work to support those who have been abandoned and we operated as community activists who see the city’s population as a collective – not “us vs. them”.
My hope is that when communities come together, it’s with the mindset that proposing solutions for the homeless population is for all of our benefit, not just because those with means feel temporarily inconvenienced. That requires conversations with the people outside your door, empathy for their circumstance and grassroots activism that demands dedicated work.
We should see our brothers and sisters on the streets as people, not encampments or, even worse, animals that need to be “dealt with”.
That’s why it’s so hard seeing pages like Manpiles of SF this pop up on social media (The name was recently changed to Welcome to Mayor Ed Lee’s Zombie Nation). This woman, Julie Zberg, was first introduced to me on my District 9 email group. While my roommate, Taylor, was proposing plans for weekly neighborhood clean ups and others were discussing the value of a soup kitchen coming to the Mission, Julie was spitting rhetoric about how disgusting the homeless in our neighborhood were and how being homeless was a choice.
In our latest email thread, she mentioned this Facebook page as her catalog for all the people she’s come to hate in her time living in the Mission. Looking through the photos, I recognized men and women I exchange pleasantries with on an everyday basis being stereotyped as “a meth head with a dug up face”. She posts hundreds of photos under an anonymous guise and then reacts with foul, childish responses when people ask what she actually plans to do to help solve this problem.
Julie is not that different from many of San Francisco’s recent transplants, who heighten their privilege by announcing “I don’t pay $3000 a month to live in a city where I have to step over homeless people!”, or some variation thereof. When the Julie’s of SF show up at community gatherings, it’s with the goal of clearing out encampments that directly affect their sense of neighborhood safety. Instead of proposing plans that require working with their district supervisor (in our case, Hillary Ronen), they throw up their hands, pronounced that “nothing can be done!” and continue to furiously post in the digital space about how disgusted they are having to make eye contact with the person who sleeps on their doorstep.
Take a moment to look at Julie’s page. Look at those faces. If you’re someone who lives in the Mission, you might recognize a person Julie has labeled “shitbag”, “zombie squatter”, or (my favorite) “this entitled fucker”. Shit, you might have bought them dinner, thrown them a few bucks, lent a blanket when it was raining, or come to learn what’s brought them to your block. Or maybe you just give a quick nod as you make your way home from a long day at work, as your brain is on autopilot thinking about Los Coyotes and a beer. Regardless, you (WE) know our community.
And the more that the Julie Zberg’s of the world have Manpile’s of SF pages on social media, the more I know in my heart that we failed them.