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Mayor Autry, Stop Hurting the Homeless

by Mike Rhodes (MikeRhodes [at]
A protest was held in north Fresno today to call attention to the homeless situation in this community. The protestors were attempting to get the attention of mayor Alan Autry, who they say has not fulfilled his promises to improve the lives of the over 8,000 homeless people in Fresno.
Mayor Autry, Stop Hurting the Homeless
By Mike Rhodes

Kelly Borkert and Al Williams held a protest on Fresno mayor Alan Autry’s home turf today. They were on the corner of Friant & Fort Washington, in north Fresno, holding signs calling on the mayor to stop hurting the homeless. As traffic roared by, Kelly explained why he were there, “I think this is the best place to catch the attention of mayor Alan Autry, this is where he works, his business office is here, he runs the city from here, and I figure he can’t miss the message from here.” Kelly told me that mayor Autry spends a lot of time at the Starbucks coffee shop at this location.

Asked what the message was, Kelly replied that “we want a different line of attack on the homeless problem, not fields of goatheads and latrines that they might sleep in.” Kelly said that the mayor and city council members were out of touch with the reality of homeless residents and he was there to draw attention to the problem.

Williams, who is homeless, said he was there “because back in February at the Homelessness radio Marathon, Autry made a bunch of promises he never kept. He said he was going to come and see my wife who is in a wheelchair and handicapped. He had tears in his eyes and everything but then he never came, he never showed up. He made other promises to the homeless that he has not fulfilled and we are here to hold him to those promises. The mayor should set an example and not tell lies.”

I asked Al what he thought the mayor should do to help the homeless. He said “There should be a place where they can go and get a shower, do their laundry, a work force similar to Labor Ready set up so people who need work done could call and get someone to do the job. A place where the homeless could get employed without having everyone else get rich off of them. Let the people work themselves back into society. You know, there are a lot of educated people out there that have college degrees. There are a large number of veterans out here (who are homeless). They were good enough to go and fight for this country and go into the military and they would like to get a job, but they need help. You can’t get a job if you can’t take a shower, you need clean clothes, a shave, do your laundry, and that is cheaper than the route the mayor is going in now.”

Borkert agreed, saying that homeless people also need a safe place where they can stay and store their property. “The city should not be pushing people out of shady underpasses and into the most desolate parts of downtown.”

For a list of articles and documents about the struggle for civil liberties for homeless people in Fresno, see:

§The Sign
by Mike Rhodes
Al Williams, a homeless man from the Roeding Park area held this sign at of Friant & Fort Washington, in north Fresno. Al said they were there because the mayor spends a lot of time at the Starbucks restaurant on this corner.
§Al Williams
by Mike Rhodes
Al said that Fresno Police officers have told homeless people in Roeding Park that they would no longer be allowed to “lounge about” in the park. According to Al, the officers threatened to arrest homeless people if they were laying or sitting on the grass in the park, starting on Saturday, July 14. The park is closed to the public from 10 PM - 6 AM, but Al says these threats are directed to any homeless person in the park during the day or night.
§3:50 minute video
by Mike Rhodes
Copy the code below to embed this movie into a web page:
Photos and video by Mike Rhodes
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