by Tommi Avicolli Mecca
Yesterday, I was heading to the post office from my office via my usual short cut. I was in a rush to get there before it closed.
Suddenly, I noticed a shiny new black iron fence in front of me. There was no way around it. I had to walk two blocks out of my way to get to where I wanted to go.
It was obvious why that fence was there.
In recent years, that area has had a lot of homeless encampments. Someone in their infinite cluelessness probably decided that an iron fence would somehow magically stop people from camping there. Wrong.
It’s not news that here in San Francisco, neighbors and merchants routinely call the police to move the homeless from their neighborhood. They don't lobby their representatives to do something that would actually make a difference, such as providing or building housing for every single homeless person on our streets, despite the fact that studies show that the solution to homelessness is a home.
Even if they did lobby their representatives, they, of course, wouldn’t want that housing and those services in their neighborhood. They’d want them somewhere else. Like the Tenderloin where poor people are supposed to live.
So the police (who always do their bidding, of course) come and push the homeless away from that particular group of neighbors and merchants, only to have them reappear days or weeks later, after they've been forced from one area to another and finally back to where they started. This has been going on for years. It’s Einstein’s definition of insanity squared.
Neighbors and merchants advocate for fences and the removal of benches from public spaces (including parks) and the placement of little metal bars on small walls. They support laws against sitting or lying on a sidewalk, laws against panhandling, laws against sleeping in parks or even being in them from midnight to 6AM. Merchants routinely lock their bathrooms so that certain people can’t use them. A senior with a bladder problem has no chance in this city.
All to punish the homeless for being homeless.
Maybe one day they’ll ask the politicians and the police to gather all the poor and homeless people and move them to a certain section of town. Then they’ll build a wall to separate them from "them."
As if they themselves are not a paycheck away from being “them." As if circumstances couldn't possibly land them or a family member or friend into the same situation.
As if an iron fence that cuts off my short cut to the post office will make America “great” again and return them to the glory days of middle-class existence that they think they once had and that “they” took away from them.
And yet they wonder how so many people voted for the guy who wants to build a wall along the Mexican border, which, of course, they oppose because they’re good San Francisco liberals and that’s what San Francisco liberals believe.
A wall is a wall is a wall.