California Homeless : Hundreds March For a Legal Place to Sleep

John Kraintz (top), who is homeless, was part of the procession that began at Loaves & Fishes in Sacramento. Photo by Lezlie Sterling / Sacramento Bee. Karen Hersh (below), a homeless woman, carries her belongings at the tent city in Sacramento. She and hundreds of other residents living in the tent city along the American River were issued notices of eviction by Sacramento police. Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images.

Hundreds of California homeless march for land rights

“We’re supposed to be the eyesore, but actually we’re citizens and we’re human beings. We’re supposed to have rights like everybody else; it don’t matter what we have in our pockets.” — Philip Grice, Homeless, 45

By Richard Gonzales / July 3, 2009

It has been about three months since city officials shut down a large “tent city” occupied by Sacramento’s homeless people.

Now, some of the tent city’s residents say they feel like refugees, with no place to go. They staged a loud demonstration Wednesday, in hopes of pressuring Sacramento officials to find them a new place to camp.

‘Where Am I Supposed To Live?’

Philip Grice, 45, has been on the move ever since the tent city closed.

“When we moved out, we moved over to a private area two fields over. They wanted us off of there too. Just like shuttling cattle, that’s all it is,” said Grice, a carpenter by trade, who wears a T-shirt that reads, “Where am I supposed to live?” “We’re supposed to be the eyesore, but actually we’re citizens and we’re human beings. We’re supposed to have rights like everybody else; it don’t matter what we have in our pockets.”

Grice joined about 250 other homeless people and their supporters for a march through the northern end of Sacramento.

Their action coincided with the closure this week of a temporary shelter where many of the tent city residents had found a roof for the winter. Now these individuals say they need a year-round legal camp on what they call “safe ground.”

Rodney Frazier, 43, a single father and disabled brick mason, participated in the march.

“A lot of these people are brick masons, they are tile setters, they are dentists, they had some very nice jobs,” said Frazier. “They contribute to the world, to society, and they had a downfall in life. They need help getting up.”

No Legal Place To Sleep

The march ended up in a hot and dusty city-owned lot next to a police station, where organizers set up a symbolic occupation. Val Jon Farris, founder of a group called iCare America, set up a tent on the lot.

“There is no legal place for people to live unless they own, rent or lease a home. So if you’re homeless it’s illegal to exist. You can’t even lay your head anywhere without getting arrested, prosecuted or criminalized,” said Farris. “So this is a demonstration in order to create a civil liberty that ought to already exist, which is [that] people have the right to be, to live without the threat of being incarcerated in their own country.”

Sacramento police officer Mark Zoulas, who has served on the homeless beat for the past decade, said a legal campground makes sense to him.

“You need something for that immediate need,” said Zoulas. “I like the winter shelter. I’m not saying that’s the best answer in the world necessarily. But at least it gives you a choice. And that’s now closed and everyone using it is out. And that leaves, for the minute, nothing, and nothing is never the answer.”

The idea of a safe ground for homeless campers divides officials in city hall. The mayor, Kevin Johnson, has been receptive, but others, including the city manager, Ray Kerridge, is not. There is also a disagreement over how much it will cost at a time when the city and county are already slashing basic services.

What is not in dispute is that this week Sacramento has 200 more people with no place to sleep.

Source / All Things Considered / NPR / July 2, 2009

Thanks to Jeffrey Segal / The Rag Blog

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2 Responses to California Homeless : Hundreds March For a Legal Place to Sleep

  1. Anonymous says:

    The solution to this as well as most other problems in the world is to socialize Land. Land is something which no human being worked to create yet something which we all need to Live. This very fact makes it a Universal Birthright. There is a simple way to socialize Land fairly for all humanity.

    1. Remove ALL Land from the capitalistic market system

    2. Charge leases on ALL Land based on demand.

    3. Return 100% of the revenue back to every man, woman and child equally in the form of a yearly Land Dividend Check.

    In this manner the yearly lease fee exactly equals the yearly Land Dividend Check and the average piece of Land is essentially Free for everyone.


  2. Anonymous says:

    O.K. Let’s start with your place and your families property. How’s that sound? Eliminate property rights – great idea – NOT! “Land is something which no human being worked to create” – that ‘create’ thing can be applied to just about anything. Plenty of people worked hard and sacrificed to buy their land, worked to improve their land, worked to pay the taxes on their land that fund the government and WELFARE, etc. etc. Now you would strip away their rights to give it to the great unwashed who in some twisted logic ‘deserve’ for doing nothing.

    Let’s get real. Millions of dollars, hours and effort have been expended to remediate this problem with limited success. For most of these individuals a life with structure, rules and demands is something to be avoided. Look a little deeper, and you will see most simply failed in life because of their own choices. They didn’t apply themselves in school, partied instead of worked, didn’t follow the rules, got hooked on substances that made them feel good, etc. etc. For many, the big goal is to get on Social Security Disability (other people’s money for nothing) and they can’t even pull that off – pathetic.

    DENTISTS!! Right, a dentist who wrote himself too many prescriptions or drank himself into failure.

    These bums are parasites on society. They don’t pay any taxes, litter without concience, harass honest citizens and are dependent on others. Numerous programs exist to give them a hand up; they don’t want it. When asked why they don’t get it together with the help of a shelter program the typical response is: “they have too many rules” That sums up the attitude – no responsibility, no rules, just free as a bird. Unfortunately that freedom comes at a cost to SOMEONE.

    That’s not exactly what this country was founded on. The exceptions are the truly mentally ill, those unable to function in society for reasons which they have no control over – not resulting from their bad choices.

    One last thing: Where did the dude get the t-shirt? There are ‘forces’ behind all this. People ‘deserve’ what they achieve – period. Giving these bums the fruits of those who actually work and contribute, while they do nothing, is wrong.

    Want a solution? Send each and every one through a mandatory ‘boot camp’. Evaluate their problem, send the mentally ill to institutions, dry out the rest and provide them skill training and a job opportunity (community work projects). If they fail this rehab course, tattoo ‘loser’ on their forehead and send them on their way to reap the rewards of their choices – the rewards they truly ‘deserve’.

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