Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I'm Not Paranoid. I'm Just Right.
Sometimes, one prefers to be wrong.
I was on the phone yesterday with Paul Boden in San Francisco talking about how activists in other communities are dealing with the criminalization of survival. Paul came up from the streets to spend seventeen years as ED of that city's Coalition on Homelessness and currently heads the Western Regional Advocacy Project, a grassroots organizer's coalition that brings homeless activists together from LA to Seattle. I speculated on why, despite Seattle's aggressive sweeps of homeless encampments over the past year, so few actual citations have been issued.
"Here's my paranoid vision of the future," I said. "I'm looking deep into my crystal ball, and I see the City using the recurrent encampment clause of the sweeps protocols to define every major camping area as defacto no-go zones by late-fall. That's the priority for now. Their focus is on aggressive continuous sweeps of encampments, and quickly triggering the gloves-off loophole so that the rights offered by the protocols become irrelevant. For now, since most people leave once clearance notices are posted, they don't really need to issue citations. The citations will be their tool once the gloves are off. They'll just go into the permanently posted areas without offering any notice, issue citations to whoever they find and trash their stuff. That's the next phase."
"You're not paranoid," said Paul. "You're just right. That was the pattern in Portland, Oakland, and other places. It's how they do it. You're not paranoid. You're right."
The painting above, The Clairvoyant, is by Brazilian artist Marcelo Halmenschlager.