SAN FRANCISCO- “I don’t even call it the Super Bowl, I call it the Toilet Bowl. We’re throwing a penalty flag on Ed Lee for unnecessary roughness on the homeless.”
Those were the words of Balil Ali, a homeless resident of San Francisco to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
The city has seen a proliferation of sweeps to remove people living on the street in what has become a regular global practice prior to big events such as the Olympics. In also what is a common practice by city officials of these host cities, those experiencing homelessness are subjected to raids in the middle of the night, sometimes arrests, and if so, having their belongings tossed in the trash.
Over the course of Super Bowl week, civil society and human rights groups organized several actions around the streets of San Francisco and also at Super Bowl City, the designated area where Super Bowl activities took place. These activities included drawing attention to police violence and also supported Yuvette Henderson and Mario Woods who had been fatally shot by police. Rallies also showed support for the homeless who had been targeted in sweeps, and even UBER drivers who organized an action to drive around the city honking and refusing to pick up passengers. Those drivers seek better working conditions.
The demands of the marchers included:
We, the people of San Francisco, demand that Super Bowl City and Ed Lee pay and invest $5 million (the budget reported to have been spent on hosting the event) right now in housing – we could house 500 people immediately with that money.
We also demand the use of publicly-owned assets, such as the empty Pier 29 or 80, or the land under the Freeway at 101/Cesar Chavez, and create monitored programs that support secure sleep, hygienic toileting, and access to transition/healing services.
We want an end to the criminalization of poverty and the continued violations of poor people’s civil and human rights. All resources currently being used for law enforcement of anti-homeless laws must be immediately re-directed to housing and support services.
KGNU has been on the streets documenting since Martin Luther King weekend. Here we hear another report from Super Bowl City in San Francisco:
all photos: KGNU News