Gated communities of hate

When did we start believing that only certain people deserve to be out in public?


OPINION "I have been arrested for 3 times in one day for sitting on the street in San Francisco" PoorNewsNetwork panhandler reporter and my fellow "poverty skolar" Papa Bear reported in our monthly community newsroom meeting last week.

As Papa Bear reported on yet another example of being arrested for the sole act of being poor, black and houseless in America, I received a text message from Berkeley that after a second round of seven hours of testimony against the proposal to put a sit-lie measure on the November ballot, it was approved anyway.

From Santa Monica to Santa Cruz, from Atlanta to San Francisco, cities across the US have been sliding towards fascism and the casual criminalization of poor people with the 21st century pauper law known as the sit-lie law.

As I have asked before — and I will ask again with the hope that readers will truly think this through: How did we all buy into the notion, without even realizing it, that emptiness equates with cleanliness, that public space should be empty to be clean and that public really doesn't mean public anymore, if its filled with the "wrong" people?

When me and my poor Black/Indian mama dealt with houselessness and racist and classist profiling throughout my childhood, we were arrested multiple times for the sole act of sleeping in our car in certain neighborhoods, and eventually I was incarcerated for those poverty crimes — and no matter how many times I was arrested, cited, and incarcerated, my or my mama's poverty didn't go away. As a matter of fact, it got worse.

Berkeley, more than these other cities, is pretty ridiculous, because so many activists live there and work on issues of Palestine and immigration and anti-war and economic justice. It just shows the true colors of separatist, grant-guideline-fueled organizing that does not connect and conflate all of these struggles together.

As a poor indigenous mother who struggles on welfare and has been incarcerated and houseless for years for the sole act of being poor, my criminalization is completely connected to my migrant brothers and sisters fighting borders and to my sisters and brothers who struggle with colonization and globalization in the global south and beyond.

I cannot work against the false borders and occupation in Palestine and not work equally on the false borders and occupation by police and ICE in Mexico, Oakland, or Berkeley. I cannot work against the war in Iraq and not also work against the war on the poor.

But corporations and wanna-be corporations — not people — are in control of politricksters in these cities. So the racist and classist lies and mythologies about those dirty, crazy, and dangerous houseless people or young people of color flood the dialogue surrounding the issues of sit-lie, and gang injunctions, and increased police terrorism against poor folks of color. And the real issue -- who defines what is public space and who can be considered the public? -- is ignored.

I ask readers as this issue comes up on the ballot in Berkeley, as it did in San Francisco, to really think about the kind of world we are becoming, the ease with which we are thinking and incarcerating certain people and the borders and gates and locks we are putting in place that will eventually change our supposedly public and free society into smaller and smaller, gated, racist, communities of hate.

Tiny, aka Lisa Gray Garcia, runs POOR Magazine and is a poverty scholar and activist.



Wait a minute, I thought that Ed Lee's latest budget was all smiles and sunshine, the nonprofits and labor stood down and declared that everything was good with the world.

Is Tiny suggesting that the progressive coterie took theirs and ran without standing in solidarity with the most vulnerable?

Lisa's piece speaks the truth to power, but the power makes the truth she speaks back at it, a truth that it already knows. The language she uses has been used for most of the past few decades and that language has not communicated much to most people and other narratives have dominated and set poor folks back significantly.

I don't see how saying the same thing in the same way that people have not warmed up to over and again is going to change people's minds to build support for a different policy.

It speaks to the thesis that nonprofits that get funding from the city or foundations are funded precisely because they insulate the system from demands for change rather than serving as agents of change and empowerment.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 7:30 am

So strange, Mexico enforces it's borders. So the USA should stop enforcing it's false borders based on the ideology of people who think that the USA should stop enforcing it's borders?

Unemployment should be driven up and wages driven down by a lack of borders, while the people who bemoan borders complain that there are no jobs and wages are down.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

Capital can come and go as it pleases. I wouldn't mind enforcing our borders so much if the borders were enforced for exploitative capital. If we're not willing to do that, however, then at least let's not be hypocrites and make the borders as open for people as for capital (people as in "human beings," that is, not "corporate people").

Posted by Greg on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

The problem is that international capitalism is going to go to Mexico and screw you and I.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

Was that you in that SUV picking up a kid on Harrison? I will not mention the cross street. The SUV with a placard in the window advertising poor magazine? I find it odd that you have an SUV.

I'm not saying 100% that it was you, but when I do an image search for your name it looks a lot like the person I saw standing outside the SUV waiting around for a kid... and you know, the sign in the left side window. Well no it looks exactly like you. How do we come up with an SUV in your straights?

Posted by matlock on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 7:34 pm

Are you the shitfaced dweeb who owns that crappy blog that no one reads? Dude looks like a total loser... looks like the kind of guy whose idea of social life is sitting in his mother's basement at 2AM banging away at the keyboard, a 40-something virgin trying to mask his inadequacies by making sarcastic comments about others.

I wouldn't be surprised if it were you. Given your style, that's _exactly_ what I pictured you to look like.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

What crappy blog is that? What in the world are you talking about?

I was walking down Harrison street and saw a girl pacing around outside a double parked SUV, who was sorta hot, the only reason I noticed, I looked at the SUV and saw a sign for "poor magazine" in the window.

I didn't think much of it considering San Francisco's politics. Having almost been run over on my bike by a Bentley with a Feinstein bumber sticker once.

Hours I later after going to the Atlas, I looked up the authors name of these screeds and the pictures matched the girl I saw.

Is the author of these Guardian poverty screeds an owner of a somewhat late model SUV? So strange because in these trying times I have been forced to cut back, to where I can't afford a late model SUV.

Maybe the Government owes me an SUV?

Posted by matlock on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 10:39 pm

POOR Magazine offices near my home, and I saw a shiny new red car with a POOR Magazine magnetic sign on it this past week. Not sure I'd call it a SUV, more like a very small crossover but very shiny and new.

I've concluded that the only nonprofits that get funded by government and grant makers are the ones that have no promise of advancing the causes of those they claim to represent, and therefore will make no significant claims past those required to maintain ineffective activists on either government or the contributors to the grant making agencies.

This does not mean that these people are bad people. Rather it means that they're knowingly taking money to keep themselves going and to not only not make change, but to insulate the system from demands for change.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 8:18 am

It's the weirdest thing, lol.

In a way, it's kinda awesome. I have never seen somebody take such pride in being on welfare. There is literally no conversation where she can't make mention of it.

I also think it's awesome that if you asked 99 people out of 100, they would say this is clearly a *white woman*. But ask Lisa, and no.. she's poor and black.



Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

She married a Latino so I guess she qualifies, at least from an honorary perspective. Prolly has some weird fetishistic thing for "oppressed people of color." Lots of privileged white people fetishize "oppressed communities." Just read any random SFBG editorial any day of the week and you'll see the fetishization in action.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:58 pm

Standing around outside her SUV waiting for her kid who ran out right in front of me as I walked down Harrison.

I don't own a motor vehicle for various reasons. Unlike Tim Redmond who owns one, none of them hippy, but I get by without one.

The establishment owes me a motor vehicle,!!!, Just like the one I saw today.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

I'd like for Tiny to tell me what prohibiting lying on the sidewalk has to do with fascism?

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

unlike communism... err, wait...

Posted by matlock on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

And it has everything to do with cracking down on poor people and others deemed "undesireable."

We may not be there just yet, but I think it's totally fair to say we're sliding that way.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:20 pm

At all - other than the belief in private property. Fascists are particularly critical of the movement of international capital - the same kind you rail against in your other comment on this piece.

The point is that communities imposing local standards through the passage of laws, such as noise ordinances or Sit-Lie, do not equal fascism. And sleeping on the sidewalk and panhandling does not equal a human right. Fascism, in Tiny's (and evidently your) view, is any action with which she disagrees. It's a simplistic mindset. One which the Tea Party also embraces.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

Benito Mussolini once said that "fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

There you have it. The founder of fascism himself said, in a nutshell, it's capitalist totalitarianism.

As for this little nugget of feces:
"Fascism, in Tiny's (and evidently your) view, is any action with which she disagrees. It's a simplistic mindset."

I have no idea where in anything that she or I wrote, you can possibly get that idea. Talk about a simplistic mindset!

Posted by Greg on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 10:07 pm

Apparently you don't know Tiny personally otherwise you would know the following:
1) Tiny's husband is not latino and 2) Her mother was a biracial (black/white) woman which gives Tiny the right to claim blackness if that's what she chooses to do.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 28, 2012 @ 10:13 am

Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics [Paperback]
Professor Seymour Martin Lipset (Author)

fascism is opportunism, If the fascist can get ahead using the poor then he will do it. Hitler and Benito used the underclass at every turn.

Like when I meet right wingers who insist that evolution is "liberal" the Greg's of the world insist that fascism is of a certain strain.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 12:07 am

Note to matlock: just because someone uses the underclass doesn't mean they're left wing. Capitalists use the underclass like crazy. How the hell do you think the Republicans manage to get people to vote for them against their own economic interests? There simply aren't enough 1%-ers to cobble together a majority.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 8:03 am

I mean -- if that's the case, we really *have* built way too much incarceration capacity.

If not -- if its still the same BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM on the door and a rude wake up message... maybe a notice to appear -- and you only get arrested for some thing else or extra besides sleeping in your car between the hours of 10 and 6 AM, please spell it out. You've got a bully pulpit here: and you should avoid any miscommunication.


Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

In answer to your question, guess it depends on what you look like. I've been approached by a police officer while I was sleeping in my car at 1 am, and when I explained to him that I had been driving for over 10 hours and needed to rest because I was too tired to keep driving, he wished me "Pleasant dreams" and went along his way.

Posted by Cynthia on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:55 pm

Thank you for reminding us of the disconnect between what activists do for other countries versus the "please don't force us to look at poverty here at home" mentality.

Posted by Cynthia on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

I feel sorry for Tiny's son. She drags him along to all her street protests.

My mother used to do that to me, too.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 10:21 pm

Is that this is all an extension of teenage rebellion against your parents. That kind of resentment is normal when you're a teenager. If your parents are liberal activists, you want to do the opposite, so you're going to grow up afflicted with Alex P Keaton syndrome, buying your clothes at Brooks Brothers and pretending Ayn Rand is deep philosophy.

Except, you're not 16 anymore. Grow up already.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 10:37 pm

Didn't your father grow up in the USSR?

Posted by matlock on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 11:53 pm

How simplistic.

My father's ideology is whatever suits him at the moment. At the moment, he's a rabid conservative. When my parents were making money, they voted for Reagan. Then when things got shitty for them under capitalism, Republicans were pretty much the equivalent of Nazis. Then when things got better again economically, he took another hard right turn, 'cause he's a "job creator" you know.

I just learned to think for myself at an early age, and not worry about rebeling against whatever philosophy my parents have. I think that's a sign of adulthood. You guys should try it sometime.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 7:58 am

"Is that this is all an extension of teenage rebellion against your parents."

We all have issues to work through around parents, you project them on others and then post the thing above.

So odd.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

Thanks for the pop psychology Gregorio.

Vete a la troncha.

Posted by guest on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 1:54 am

I saw Tina driving an SUV last week too.

Is this another trust-fund baby disguised as an activists?

Posted by guest on Jul. 28, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

The GOP are masters of getting people to vote for them. The reality is we all want freedom, rights or whatever makes us feel good. We have the 1 percent of the poor and 1 percent of the rich. What about the 98 percent. I am liberal but we need to get people working again, we need to bring back the blue collar working class families again, we need taxpayers, we need more people working to retire. We need more people who are will to get down, get dirty and work. We aren't going to do this by producing more bankers, or low wage service workers

Posted by Garrett on Aug. 01, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

Poor people make up far more than 1% of this nation's population. They always have. This country started off as a slave society, one of the largest in the world at that time, and it maintains forms of large scale peonage labor to this day. Those in charge never liked paying living wages to those who do manual labor. For a brief period of time during the 1930's, and after WWII, circumstances such as technology and strong labor unions stymied them, but globalization has put the overclass back in charge. With an entire world of desperate people to exploit they are not going to pay living wages or give benefits to anyone other than themselves, whether the workers live in the United States or in China, or in Haiti.

Many of those who live in this country and claim to be working class or even members of the middle class are always one or two paychecks from losing their home and other trappings of their status. Many are far closer to living in poverty or on the streets due to a job loss or misfortune such as an illness in the family than either they or the American exceptionalism propaganda machine will ever admit.

There never has been any form of equality when it comes to the "freedom of movement" in this country. For example' there have always been some been some form of legal controls such as "vagrancy" laws, or "stop and frisk" which constrained the free movement of Black people which were and are backed up no go zones and neighborhoods and communities which confined and constricted them even in places such as the allegedly liberal Bay Area.

Posted by PEASEHEAD on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 4:11 pm
Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 5:59 pm

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