Two volunteers with the mutual aid group Reno Food Not Bombs are in “critical, but stable condition” and one unhoused person, Michelle “Mama Bear,” is dead after a 57 year old man, David Turner, “suddenly and inexplicably drove his car through the area where the women were standing” on Monday. All three were reportedly transported to a local hospital directly following the attack, however Michelle sadly passed away due to her injuries. According to law enforcement, Turner claimed that the attack was “intentional.” As This Is Reno reported: David Turner, 57, is facing one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder. He drove into a small group of people, who were reportedly helping to feed those in need, near the Nevada Cares Campus, according to Reno police. Two were injured and are in stable condition.
Santa Cruz, California - The pheromones of fear swept Californians indoors from the chilly mist of March 2020. News of death haunted the media. The streets were silent of all but the unsheltered, police and the hardy volunteers at the Santa Cruz Homeless Union COVID – 19 Relief Center and Food Not Bombs meal. The CDC announced that every effort should be made to provide hotel rooms to the homeless to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Governor Newsom also announced that the State would provide millions of dollars in funding for what he would call Operation Room Key. The Santa Cruz Sentinel’s March 19, 2020 article “Santa Cruz coronavirus ‘triage centers’ in the works for city’s unsheltered population” reported that the state would be “setting aside $50 million to convert hotel and motel rooms into quarantine options for those who are infected, plus more than 1,300 trailers statewide for the same use.”
Dallas, Texas - Over 40 people delayed the sweeping of a South Dallas homeless encampment on Friday morning, blocking off the camp with their bodies and cars. Some were armed with rifles. “We’re just trying to move people, trying to minimize any risk coming up,” said Jonathan Guadian, who was unarmed and frequently volunteers to help residents of the camp. City staff, which included city marshals, homeless solutions and code compliance, stood at the camp’s edge negotiating with residents and activists before deciding they’d give them more time to move people’s belongings. “We’re here just in peace, we’re not going to use force…it’s never the intent to harm,” said Clifton Knight, a chief deputy with the Dallas Marshal’s Office.
Minneapolis, Minnesota – After swelling to serve several dozen residents swept from other encampments, the lot on 29th Street and 14th Avenue continues to be controlled by unhoused residents despite the ongoing threat of eviction. On July 8, dozens of community members rallied at the encampment in the early morning hours and staved off what many thought was an eviction attempt by the city. Unicorn Riot heard from East Phillips resident and encampment supporter, Angela Richards, along with encampment resident, King, about the roles they were taking during the morning of July 8 and their thoughts on encampment evictions. Update: On July 20, 2022, Minneapolis Police evicted the encampment. Unicorn Riot was live speaking with some of the residents displaced from the eviction.
On June 9, Winnipeg’s public works committee voted to remove the glass, seating, and doors from two bus shelters outside Kildonan Place mall as a means of displacing unhoused people who have been living or spending time in them. While far from the first time this has happened—the city has removed doors and heated benches from at least 11 bus shelters to discourage their use as “temporary homeless shelter[s]”—it’s one of the most visible and contentious instances of the trend. Councilor Shawn Nason, who represents the Transcona ward where the two bus shelters are located, has spent the last several months inciting an increasingly aggressive campaign about the issue, including introducing a motion against “hoarding” in public areas that would enable city staff to more easily raid encampments.
For two and a half months, unhoused protesters maintained a tent demonstration across from the capitol in so-called Boise, Idaho. In response, folks were given a printout from capitol security and Idaho state police that informed them that they would be ticketed/trespassed from the area and potentially arrested if they remained past the 28th of March (a date that the State conveniently decided to begin early lawn maintenance and sprinkler set up). Fed up from constant state repression, and still facing a lawsuit and criminal charges, demonstrators decided to disband and scatter. The thought of further raids, ticketing, and repression from the State was too much to bear.
On Thursday, February 17th, park rangers and Portland police showed up to the PDX Houseless Radicals Collective’s Fallout Camp on Park’s land in southeast Portland, Oregon. Their intended eviction of the camp was prevented by the presence of several comrades who were there in support. They promised to return in force the following Tuesday. Organizing for a sweep defense started ramping up that weekend. A community potluck was called for that Sunday at Fallout Camp, where a meeting was held discussing strategy. A public-facing campaign combined with a civil disobedience-style sweep defense was the chosen strategy. A phone zap flyer and a petition began to circulate online, and support was gathered through social media and word-of-mouth.
While the City of Seattle swept her home at Ballard Commons, an unhoused woman cried out to the city workers, mutual aid groups, and other community members packing up the park. “Why don’t they come up with a solution that actually makes sense?” she said of the city. “Put people indoors. Do they think we want to be out here in the middle of winter? No! We’re not crazy.” That was three weeks ago. It was 40 degrees that day. Monday, Dec. 27, the city shivered under a high of 23 degrees, the coldest day in 31 years. The risk associated with hypothermia in the cold weather was greater than the risk of contracting COVID-19, according to Public Health – Seattle & King County. That afternoon, Dr. Stephen Morris, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at UW Medicine, told the Seattle Times that Harborview Medical Center saw one cold weather-related death, two “critically ill” patients, and approximately six people admitted for hypothermia.
This July, unhoused leaders set up tents in front of Atlanta City Hall to demand a meeting with city officials. They were met by nearly 60 armed police officers who gave them 15 minutes to disperse. Only moments later, 10 of the activists — members of the newly-formed Atlanta Homeless Union — were arrested. The group had four demands: permanent housing, health care, access to water and sanitation, and a “seat at the table” to negotiate with city officials regarding housing policy. “Nobody else that’s not walking in our shoes gonna tell us what to do,” the unhoused leaders announced in their first press release. “Teach us how to fish, and we’ll eat forever. The homeless have unionized, and we’re here for what we deserve.” The Atlanta Homeless Union came into being at a critical moment for the nearly 600,000 people experiencing homelessness across the nation — a number that is likely much higher since data on homelessness hasn’t been gathered since before the pandemic.
On September 8th 1946, some 1500 men, women and children occupied properties in Kensington and Chelsea as part of the largest single direct action of trespass in a year marked by the squatting of military camps and empty residences across the UK. In defiance of the risk of arrest and absolutely zero guarantee of any rights to remain, these actions were executed with meticulous planning and coordination, with people arriving with their possessions in lorries and being directed by volunteers. Over 100 families entered the luxury flats of the Duchess of Bedford House, via conveniently unlocked doors and skylights. Within days overspill properties were opened near Regent’s Park, spreading through the city to the Ivanhoe Hotel in Bloomsbury and Fountain Court on Buckingham Palace Road.
A child of refugees who fled war-torn Uganda in the 1970s, a young Naheed Dosani grew up having conversations about social injustice, inequity and poverty at the family’s Scarborough home. “I have always pondered what a life is worth,” he says, “and why our health and social systems are designed to value some lives over those of others.” This was especially the case after the challenges of the last year. A palliative care physician who works with some of the city’s most vulnerable, Dosani said that “COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted people who experience structural vulnerabilities. Pandemics are like guided missiles. They target the most vulnerable. The disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on three groups — racialized communities, essential workers and people who experience homelessness — are all textbook examples of its devastating impact.”
Housing advocates dubbed de Blasio a broken record for his repetitive phrases such as a “Recovery for all” and references to New York’s bright future, which they say ostracizes the homeless community. In response to the mayor’s “empty promises,” several organizations held the “de Blasio Broken Record” Action, during which they demanded a halt to the transferal of unhoused individuals from hotels to shelters.
New York City — A march and rally against New York City’s decision to move about 8,000 homeless individuals from hotels to shelters was held Saturday. The process has been put on hold, but many say it shouldn’t have happened to begin with. Homeless advocates blasted the city for pushing those sheltered in hotels back to congregate living. “Don’t you know housing is a human right?” one speaker said. Just as the city ramped up moving some 8,000 homeless people out of the hotels, a lawsuit brought by the Legal Aid Society brought the process to a standstill, including at the Hotel at Fifth Avenue. “They woke us up early in the morning, banging on the doors at six, telling us to make sure we’re packed and ready to go, and then they’re stuffing all of us back to the same place that we just left from,” shelter resident Chantel Estrella said.
As much of Louisville remains under a layer of ice and with another winter storm on the way, the city is doing nothing to keep alive its homeless population, several advocates contended Saturday evening. Leaders from local homeless outreach organizations spoke in front of Hotel Louisville Saturday night, demanding city leaders address what they called a humanitarian crisis. Donny Greene, co-founder of Feed Louisville, said the city has given excuses for not helping people left outside in the below-freezing temperatures, contending there is no shelter space available. "The truth of the matter is the city is currently housing homeless people … in hotels in the city, and they have the ability to do that for everyone," Greene said.
The criminal “justice” apparatus faces increasing criticism for emphasizing punishment, violent abuse and incarceration of criminals rather than rehabilitation. However, few observers recognize the active role community “justice” programs and businesses play in this displacement. The public/private SafeZone initiative launched in downtown Minneapolis in 2004 serves as an instructive example of how programs lauded as reforms can still impose punitive “law and order” tactics onto targeted populations. “A month ago I was driving down Nicollet going to pick up my girl, somebody shot at me, twice!” Demetri (whose real name is being protected) said in an electrified voice.