Fresno Homeless Under Attack
By Mike Rhodes
May 25, 2006 - The attack against Fresno’s homeless continues. This morning at 7 AM, Fresno City workers were ordered to destroy an encampment of homeless men and women on E street in downtown Fresno. Backed up by armed guards, workers from the department of sanitation moved their bulldozer and garbage truck into position. As men in orange vests and face masks moved in, the homeless hurried to disassemble their tents and load their belongings onto shopping carts.
This was the 4th attack on the homeless in the past couple of months and most of the residents on this small strip of land, under Caltrans management, are used to the routine. A police officer comes by a day or two before the eviction and tells the homeless to move. This is followed by the arrival of the City crew and police. The residents know that if they can move their belongings across the street in time, they can move back before the day is over.
Talking to Monte and Will the day before the evictions, they were largely philosophical about what was about to happen. "We will just pack up our stuff and wait for them to leave." said Monte, a military veteran. Will is a disabled vet. He was injured in the Korean war and uses a wheelchair. The shrapnel in his spine left him paralyzed. Will was on the street this morning as the eviction began. He wondered out loud why the city has the resources to destroy their community but not to provide a portable toilet or dumpster for the trash that accumulates.
When I arrived, Will was talking to Liza Apper, who works with the St Benedict Catholic Worker project http://www.sbcw.org/ . Liza and her husband Bryan were there to observe this attack on the homeless and try to provide some protection. While Bryan talked to the agencies involved about the law, Liza positioned herself in front of a tent that had been targeted for destruction. The owners of the tent were away when the bulldozer arrived and Liza was the only thing between the tent and certain destruction. She was told to move but held her ground. Eventually the bulldozer operator decided to go around Liza and moved further down the strip of land to scoop up blankets, food, and other items that had been left behind. About 30 minutes later, the owners of the tent returned. They hurriedly took their tent down and moved across the street.
See earlier reports here: