Analysis by Reporting San Diego
June 27, 2016 (San Diego) There are two troublesome stories circulating. The first is that the city installed a rock garden under a bridge for the All Star Game. It turns out it was installed to keep the homeless out. The excuse of course was that Sherman Heights residents requested that. But the truth, as always, did emerge.
Now we have the city moving the homeless from down town San Diego Of course the city denies that this has anything to do with the All Star Game, but this is what happens when major events come to any town in the United States. Homeless are not seen as producers, but rather as takers in the system. They also are considered an eye sore, and our city has a very large population, Depending on who you read the 5th largest or 4th largest in the country. Many of them are also military vets. It also has continued to climb in spite of city efforts to reduce it.
We are also seeing a new pattern emerge. This is a national problem. People are being told not to feed the homeless, which is also getting criminalized nation wide.
What would you do if a police officer threatened to arrest you for trying to share a sandwich with a desperately hungry homeless woman that really needed it? Such a notion sounds absolutely bizarre, but this is actually happening in major cities all over the United States. More than 50 large U.S. cities have adopted “anti-camping” or “anti-food sharing” laws in recent years, and in many of these cities the police are strictly enforcing these laws. Sometimes the goal appears to be to get the homeless people to go away. Apparently the heartless politicians that are passing these laws believe that if the homeless can’t get any more free food and if they keep getting thrown into prison for “illegal camping” they will eventually decide to go somewhere else where they won’t be hassled so much.
We are getting the same advise here in San Diego. Do not feed the homeless. Do not give them money. Do not help them. Help the groups that are already designated to do this. Recently Council Member Todd Gloria told this to an Uptown group according to the Uptown News:
“Don’t give away your money or your food to the homeless,” Gloria said. “Instead, give your money to groups that are working with the homeless.”
What is going on is a classic of a neoliberal economic system that puts profits before people and that wants the city to put their best face to national and international visitors. Moving homeless around and making their life more difficult is par for the course. It does not matter if this is Brazilian authorities cleaning up the Favelas before the World Cup, or the Olympic games, or San Diego removing homeless.
The usual claim is that this is for everybody’s safety. But in reality the homeless congregate where they feel they are more or less safe. That said, there have been assaults in the recent past on homeless in San Diego. While the homeless were never part of the vote to get the All Star Game in San Diego, they were surely part of the plan presented to Major League Baseball (MLB). The last thing MLB wants is for their well heeled clientele to walk though a throng of panhandling homeless people.
So while the city expels people from areas where they feel safe, and can get to some resources, it denies it is doing it becuase of the upcoming events. We have to wonder if they city realizes how silly these claims actually sound. That includes the we will clean the sidewalks every so often. And while the San Diego Police Department does state that being homeless is far from criminal, the actions they themselves recommend to discourage homeless around properties might as well criminalize it. It is also a classic example of broken windows theory. If you support some disorder, such as feeding a person, you encourage further disorder.
There is nowhere in that site a way to humanely deal with the issue. It also shows a top down attitude regarding homelessness. One that is going to get enforced, because America’s finest city cannot admit it has an issue with homelessness, or that what it has done to deal with it, has failed.