UPDATE: Advocates to attend Tuesday City Council meeting… “wearing trash bags to signify the only protection from the elements the city has left to hundreds of human beings who spent Monday night huddled under the overpasses in East Village. Our message: Stop treating human beings like garbage!”
You have to wonder what they were thinking in city hall. On Monday morning the police department conducted a sweep of sidewalk homeless encampments as a major winter storm bore down on San Diego.
The “environmental” staff showed up on 17th and Imperial around 5:30am – took anything unattended – just when people were waking up and had gone up to Neil Good Day Center to go to the bathroom. So their stuff was considered Discarded Debris.When activist David Ross got there around 8am – after stopping at the Bargain market to buy 100 large black trash bags, people were all huddled under the Imperial St bridge. They had lost everything.
A severe thunderstorm warning for the entire San Diego County coastline was issued as the second in a series of El Niño storms swept through the region. The promise of below-normal temperatures combined with driving rain and gusty winds meant being outside was going to be a miserable experience.
It’s not like this weather forecast was any secret. None-the-less, in the hours leading up to the first round of torrential rail and hail, the San Diego Police Department were busy confiscating tarps, tents and other makeshift shelters erected by homeless people on the periphery of downtown.
The impending bad weather apparently wasn’t seen as an obstacle to enforcing bright green notices posted last week warning of “Cleanup and Property Removal.” The problem is/was that there was no place else for the humans targeted by this purge to go.
Activist/SDFP Columnist Jeeni Criscenzo posted the following:
This morning, just before the torrential rain and hail hit downtown, the San Diego Police Department, under the direction of Mayor Falconer, removed the tarps and tents and whatever pathetic coverings human beings had put together to say out of the rain. What kind of heartless animals would order this and what spineless cruel snakes would carry out these orders? There is nothing they can say that will justify this outrage. And if we, the citizens of San Diego let this pass, we are as guilty as they are.
Homeless advocates in San Diego are giving serious consideration to showing up Tuesday at City Hall wearing plastic trash bags — “San Diego’s answer to Emergency shelter”– for the city council session slated to begin at 10am. Among the items up for consideration: “Declaring a continued state of emergency to exist due to the imminent risk of flooding caused by El Niño, pursuant to California Government Code Section 8630…”
UPDATE: Via a Press Release from Homeless to Housed:
Instead of taking the action needed to provide sufficient and appropriate emergency shelter for the hundreds of homeless human beings with no place to live, the city has been engaged in futile sweeps that involve confiscation of the few possessions these people have and dismantling their makeshift attempts to protect themselves from the cold and rain. The action on Monday morning clearly went beyond what decent citizens will tolerate–leaving human beings, including the sick and elderly, with absolutely no protection from the wind and rain that followed soon after the early morning sweep.
These outraged citizens will be attending the San Diego City Council meeting at 10 AM – wearing trash bags to signify the only protection from the elements the city has left to hundreds of human beings who spent Monday night huddled under the overpasses in East Village. Our message: Stop treating human beings like garbage!
Following the Non-agenda Public Comments, there will be a press conference in the Covered area west of City Hall on C Street., Lori Saldaña, former CA Assemblyperson and San Diego mayoral candidate and Jeeni Criscenzo, president of Amikas and part of the Homeless to Housed Coalition, will make a statement and witnesses to the action will be available to talk to the press.
A Public Records Request will be filed with the Mayor’s office, asking who requested and authorized these actions and what city resources and budget were involved. Photos show six or more police vehicles at just one of the encampments.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available. Photos courtesy of Homeless News San Diego.