San Francisco Left Its Heart ...

Rigo 23, 2012 Several folks have contacted Clarion Alley Mural Project in the last few months to let us know that they had been harassed on the alley for money by guys with “druggie auras” – and in some cases paint cans, and who at times have become verbally aggressive and have made visitors to the alley nervous and uncomfortable.

CAMP is, and has been aware of this situation for sometime. Here’s the deal – these guys (and so far, all we know of and have heard about are men) are homeless or housing unstable and part of the street community. They really aren’t “bad people,” rather the opposite – at heart they’re very kind and really do care about the alley and the murals – as the space is part of their home and it is their community. However, they’re struggling and often desperate because they are in pain – physically, emotionally, and/or mentally … or they’re hungry … or cold … or in desperate need of medical care. Some are addicted to drugs/alcohol … and some are recovering from addiction … or are seriously trying to get help. So far we aren’t aware of any incidents in which anyone has become physically violent. At least one of them is formally part of CAMP – and often helps with maintaining the murals on the alley. In fact, he’s one of the primary folks who regularly repairs murals and cleans up tags – as he’s an artist and he cares about the alley because it is his home/community.

However, from a broader perspective, these guys reflect a much deeper concern – one that’s become especially glaring in San Francisco – the growing divide and disparity between the rich and everyone else. San Francisco’s “leadership” is catering heavily to the wealthy – in every way, shape, and form – and leaving everyone else struggling, and often desperate, and many on the street with NO alternatives. Many of the city’s services have been closed, or whittled way down. There’s a sit/lie ordinance in place, which is a direct attack on the homeless/housing unstable. The city supervisors recently voted to close the parks at night; they’ve voted to give huge tax breaks/exemptions to the very companies who are in part responsible for driving housing costs way beyond what middle and lower income people can afford – driving many folks to housing instability; they did nothing to oppose the closure of the chess games in mid-market; and most have supported (directly or indirectly) the developers and corporate interests that are destroying San Francisco’s middle and lower income residents, its longstanding creative culture, its non-profits, its city services, its infrastructure … its soul.

Sadly, San Francisco is becoming a city that invests heavily in shit – literally – as it continues to cultivate a culture that spends much of its money on high-end restaurants and boutique foodie ventures so that its new 1% residents are blowing hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars in an hour or less – so they can just shit on the rest of the city … while many of the folks they’re pushing out are on the streets and starving …