“Silence encourages the tormentor …”
By Jeeni Criscenzo
This is what happens when those in authority disparage a particular group of people. Whether they mean to or not, their public expressions of contempt and disrespect give permission, and even encouragement, to those looking for an excuse to manifest their anger and hatred in violent actions against the most vulnerable. I predict that future history books will call this the Trump Effect.
So it comes as no surprise to me that here in San Diego, we are suddenly seeing an increase in brutal attacks on people sleeping on the street. For months we have watched our police, as authority figures, acting on orders to torment those experiencing homelessness and struggling to survive on our city streets with weekly sweeps.
Talk about kicking a person when they’re down! Every Monday our City sends out a team of a half dozen squad cards, sanitation vehicles, fire engines and ambulances to uproot our poorest neighbors. They give them citations they can never afford to pay, break up any social bonds they might be forming and throw away their few precious belongings. And they call it doing their job, to make our City safe and pleasant.
As if that isn’t enough, now we have a church group that had been providing meals to people living on the streets in East Village being told they will be shut down if they continue to follow their ministry to “feed the poor” during the month of July, when out-of-town visitors will be coming to the City for the All Star Game and Comic Con.
Week after week, the good citizens of San Diego have done nothing to stop this cruelty perpetrated on our poor. Our City Council hasn’t uttered a word in opposition. Our church leaders have not organized to defend the ‘least amongst us.” The heads of agencies collecting healthy paychecks for supposedly serving the homeless, have stood mute. The only voices objecting to this institutionalized bullying have come from a handful of advocates who might as well be spitting in the breeze.
The late humanitarian Elie Wiesel, said, “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
It is your silence that has encouraged a psychopath to douse sleeping people and set them aflame and bludgeon them to death. Now our Police Chief, who has participated in the orchestration of these weeks of bully tactics against people who need our kindness and generosity, holds a press conference and says all resources will be used to catch this perpetrator. But who will take responsibility for encouraging this tormentor?
There is a way for you to break the silence. During the All Star Game events on July 7 through July 12, as the City rolls out the red carpet over the dirty secret of homelessness, an ad hoc group of activists (that can include you) under the #SDHomelessProject will be rolling back the carpet, raising public awareness of the persecution of people experiencing homelessness in the vicinity of Petco Park.
This is your opportunity to let City officials know we are outraged by the bully tactics they have been using against our most vulnerable residents, that not only adds to their misery but also encourages acts of violence against them.
#SDHomelessProject will be operating a Cool Zone Station (providing cold water, shade, chairs and nutritious packaged snacks at Fault Line Park. We will have cold water & ice served in paper cups, bandanas to soak in water and drape around necks, bananas, oranges, and packaged raisins and nutrition bars.
This Cool Zone will also serve as “Basecamp” for deployment of Sign Squad teams to stand at All Star Events or wherever crowds will be. Each team will have 3 volunteers: 1 will hold Cardboard sign with “reality check” information about our homeless residents and pass out Info Card, 1 to film/photograph, and 1 musician to entertain with street music. You can volunteer to help at the Cooling Zone or to go out with a sign squad or to be part of a mobile water team bringing water and fruit to folks who can’t get to the cooling station. Simply show up at Fault Line Park on July 9 through 12, from noon to 4 p.m. and we will match you up with a team.
Location: Base Camp – Fault Line Park, 1433 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101, at the Southwest corner on the grass (popup canopies w/ chairs)
Dates & Times:
- Saturday, July 9, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Sunday, July 10, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Monday, July 11 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, July 12 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Volunteer on any of the dates above to:
- Help with set up (11:00 a.m. to noon) or tear down (4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.).
- Assist in distributing water and snacks.
- Join a Sign Squad to disperse out from base Camp between Noon and 4:00 p.m. to areas where there are crowds.
- Join a Mobile Cooling Team, to bring water to people on the streets who can’t make it to Fault Line Park.
Restroom facilities: The public restrooms for Fault Line Park, located outside the restaurant at the Northwest corner, are “closed indefinitely” per sign posted by the City. Please plan accordingly.
Getting there: We urge volunteers to use the Trolley to come to Fault Lie Park, where street parking and parking lots are VERY limited. The Orange and Blue Lines each stop at Park-Market, which actually is at the corner of Island and Park, just a block west of Fault Line Park. Or you can take the Green Line to 12th & Imperial and walk several blocks northeast to 14th & J (OR transfer to Orange Line at Santa Fe Depot). You can park at outlying stations. See Trolley Map and Schedule here: https://www.sdmts.com/schedules-real-time-maps-and-routes/trolley
Donations of ice, oranges, bananas and wrapped snack bars are welcomed. No bottled water, please. Bring to The Grassroots Oasis, 3130 Moore St. near Old Town before 10:00 a.m., Saturday, July 9, to Tuesday July 12.
Questions? Call/text Martha at 858-945-6273.
To further quote Wiesel, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.” Which side will you choose?