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Central Valley | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Fresno Homeless Camp out at City Hall
by Mike Rhodes ( MikeRhodes [at] Comcast.net )
Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 9:42 AM
The homeless issue has reached a new level of significance in Fresno as the homeless and their supporters are starting to take action to defend their civil rights. First, a lawsuit was filed by several civil rights legal groups against the City of Fresno to stop the attacks against the homeless. Late last week a Federal judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order to stop the police from taking the homeless peoples possessions and immediately destroying them. Yesterday, there was a rally in support of the homeless at City Hall. The details are in the story below.
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Fresno Homeless Camp out at City Hall
By Mike Rhodes

There were more people sleeping under the stars in Fresno last night than usual and the sidewalks were equally cold and hard to both the homeless and homeless advocates who spent the night at Fresno City Hall. The camp out began as over a 100 people came to the steps of Fresno City Hall to bring attention to the harsh conditions the homeless experience in this city. In addition to camping out, participants heard prayers, gave testimonials, shared food, sang, and listened to music. They were hopeful that the attention to the issue of homelessness would move the city to adopt a more humane policy.

Last week a lawsuit was filed against the City of Fresno who has taken an increasingly aggressive and hostile stance toward this city’s homeless. The lawsuit seeks to stop the city from taking and immediately destroying homeless peoples property. A Temporary Restraining Order was issued in Federal Court to stop the city from using bulldozers which scoop up and destroy tents, medicine, clothing, and anything else in their path. The homeless are also constantly harassed by the police who stop and search them, run their ID through the data base for outstanding warrants, and force them from one location to another.

The police were also very present last night at City Hall. There were police on motorcycles who drove them up and down the sidewalks, they were parked in patrol cars across the street, and they were in bicycle teams that made sweeps through the crowd. At one point they asked for the person in charge and proceeded to warn him that the sprinklers “might” come on unexpectedly during the evening.

Food Not Bombs served food and the Sleeping Bag Project brought clothing, blankets, and sleeping bags. Anarchist collectives from Fresno and Modesto hung banners from the balcony of City Hall, the most provocative one reading “Arm the Homeless.”

The event was primarily organized by Rev. Floyd Harris, California State president of the National Action Network. Rev. Harris led a prayer at the beginning of the event which was followed by a short Native American ceremony and song, This was followed by the entire group singing This Land is Your Land.

Related events today include:

Sunday, October 22
11 AM
SPIRITUAL SERVICE AT TENT CITY
"G" and Monterey, Fresno : Join our brothers and sisters in prayer to stop homelessness in this
land of richness.

Sunday, October 22
3 PM
MARCH from THE JUSTICE CORNER to the Stop Police Brutality event (which starts at 5 PM). Bring, noise makers, wear black, March for justice (Fresno and C Streets).

Sunday, October 22
5:00 PM
Stop Police Brutality. It isn't only about Joaquin Figuerora! Spoken word, march, vigil at the corner of N street and Mariposa in Fresno across the main library. Bring pictures of victims, drums, candles, song, poetry. WEAR BLACK . For more information contact Gloria Hernandez e-mail iwapgh [at] aol.com , message phone 559 497-0633 / 559 268-2261 or see http://october22-ny.org/national/

For more information about recent events affecting the homeless, see:

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/10/17/18321050.php
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/10/19/18321616.php
§Singing
by Mike Rhodes Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 9:42 AM
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This Land is Your Land, this Land is my Land...
§Jean Chipp
by Mike Rhodes Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 9:42 AM
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Jean Chipp is the coordinator of the Sleeping Bag Project, which brought clothing, blankets, and (of course) sleeping bags for the homeless. Jean also works with Food Not Bombs.
§The Police Make Their Presence Known
by Mike Rhodes Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 9:42 AM
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This officer is telling Rev. Harris that the sprinklers “might” be turned on at City Hall last night as people try to sleep. Fortunately the water did not get turned on.
§Arm the Homeless
by Mike Rhodes Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 9:42 AM
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§Tent at City Hall
by Mike Rhodes Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 9:42 AM
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While most people slept on the concrete, these brave souls risked a midnight shower from the sprinkler system. About 50 people spent the night at City Hall Saturday night. All photos by Mike Rhodes.