[Hpn] SF Health Commission and DPH Director Dr. Mitch Katz shamed into ending meeting!!! ending meeting!!!

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Wed, 13 Dec 2000 22:58:13 -0700


> Let HPN know how the Die-In went, bro, if you have time.  (Or do I have to
> post the ChronicLies coverage instead?)

OK Tom, you asked for it. This is going to be a long post.

Between the Supreme Court decision and the district runoff election we were
pretty much washed out of the Chronicle. We got about five column inches in
the Examiner (but since Hearst sold it to acquire the Chron, their online
edition isn't very current and it's pretty spotty). We did actually get some
good TV and radio, especially Bay TV, KPFA, and the National Radio Project.
Tiny from POOR News Network says she's going to put an article up our their
url:  http://www.poornewsnetwork.org  And there should be some more goodies
up on SF Bay Area Independent Media Center by the end of today:
http://www.sf.indymedia.org

Oh... how did it go? WE SHUT THEIR ASSES DOWN, BRO!!!

The initial plan was for three of us to slip over to the Health Dept halfway
through the rally (about 2:30), ensure no-one was in the Health Commission
meeting chamber (they were meeting at 3:00), then slap a kryptonite lock on
the door handles. Plan "A" went bust when we were surprised to learn that
the Health Commission's Budget Committee was meeting in the same room prior
to the regular Commission meeting. So, there I was, trying to look casual
and exchange hellos with about a half-dozen dept. bureaucrats I knew while
standing in the hall outside the chamber with a bike lock jammed in the back
of my jeans. 

We aborted the mission and reverted to plan "B," which turned out to much
more effective, and much, much more fun.

After more speakers and street theatre, we led a short and spirited march
across the street to the Health Department, and about 100 of us (and a
couple of friendly legal observers from the National Lawyer's Guild) filed
into the Health Commission meeting in progress singing the following song to
the tune of the "12 Days of Christmas:"

On the first day of Christmas the city gave to me
One Mayor who doesnąt give a damn

On the second day of Christmas the city gave to me
Two brutal cops
And one Mayor who doesnąt give a damn

On the third day of Christmas the city gave to me
Three years of Mitch "Kutz"
Two brutal cops
And one Mayor who doesnąt give a damn

On the fourth day of Christmas the city gave to me
Four years ­- no expansions
Three years of Mitch "Kutz"
Two brutal cops
And one Mayor who doesnąt give a damn

On the fifth day of Christmas the city gave to me
FIVE -- POINT -- RESTRAINTS
Four years ­- no expansions
Three years of Mitch "Kutz"
Two brutal cops
And one Mayor who doesnąt give a damn

On the sixth day of Christmas the city gave to me
Six denials of services
FIVE -- POINT -- RESTRAINTS
Four years ­- no expansions
Three years of Mitch "Kutz"
Two brutal cops
And one Mayor who doesnąt give a damn

On the seventh day of Christmas the city gave to me
Seven spineless Commisioners
Six denials of services
FIVE ­- POINT -- RESTRAINTS
Four years ­- no expansions
Three years of Mitch "Kutz"
Two brutal cops
And one Mayor who doesnąt give a damn

On the eighth day of Christmas the city gave to me
Eight evictions on my record
Seven spineless Commisioners
Six denials of services
FIVE -- POINT -- RESTRAINTS
Four years ­- no expansions
Three years of Mitch "Kutz"
Two brutal cops
And one Mayor who doesnąt give a damn

On the ninth day of Christmas the city gave to me
Nine Supervisors ignoring us
Eight evictions on my record
Seven spineless Commisioners
Six denials of services
FIVE -- POINT -- RESTRAINTS
Four years ­- no expansions
Three years of Mitch "Kutz"
Two brutal cops
And one Mayor who doesnąt give a damn

On the tenth day of Christmas the city gave to me
Ten 5150s
Nine Supervisors ignoring us
Eight evictions on my record
Seven spineless Commisioners
Six denials of services
FIVE -- POINT -- RESTRAINTS
Four years ­- no expansions
Three years of Mitch "Kutz"
Two brutal cops
And one Mayor who doesnąt give a damn

On the eleventh day of Christmas the city gave to me
Eleven appointments in a good year
Ten 5150s
Nine Supervisors ignoring us
Eight evictions on my record
Seven spineless Commissioners
Six denials of services
FIVE -- POINT -- RESTRAINTS
Four years ­- no expansions
Three years of Mitch "Kutz"
Two brutal cops
And one Mayor who doesnąt give a damn

On the twelfth day of Christmas the city gave to me
Twelve citations for sleeping
Eleven appointments in a good year
Ten 5150s
Nine Supervisors ignoring us
Eight evictions on my record
Seven spineless Commissioners
Six denials of services
FIVE -- POINT -- RESTRAINTS
Four years ­- no expansions
Three years of Mitch "Kutz"
Two brutal cops
AND ONE MAYOR WHO DOESN'T GIVE A DAMN!

*   *   *   *   *

The public and Sept. employees who were seated at the meeting broke into
spontaneous applause when we finished singing. Then a direct action affinity
group comprised mostly of volunteers and staff from COH, Food Not Bombs,
TransAction, and INS Watch occupied the area between the dais where the
Commissioners were seated and the public. They unfurled a red banner reading
"Resist the Criminalization of Mental Illness" while Kathleen (who is, hands
down, the loudest human female in my experience) read the long form of the
demands that we posted to HPN. (From now on, whenever she's driving me up
the wall, I'm going to remember that her loud mouth is a weapon at our
disposal.) After Kathleen had finished, the affinity group -- about 25 folks
-- "died" on the floor in front of the audience.

Speaking of loudmouths, we then started doing lots of fun chants like these:

The human rights problem in the world today
Is right here in the city by the bay!

Stop talking ­- start treating!
Stop beating ­- start treating!

Treat us ­- donąt beat us!

Fuck the pigs ­- all power to the people!

Treatment ­- not jails!

The Commissioners huddled with Mitch Katz and a couple of cops behind the
dais. Our plan "C," if the affinity group was arrested, was for another
group to continue disrupting the meeting in pairs with whistles.
(Nickel-plated or hard-rubber Acme Thunderer whistles are, for my money, one
of the best meeting disruption devices available for those who don't have
loud mouths, or who go hoarse quickly. They're the same ones the cops use,
and they're 100% legal until you use them, but every time you get pinched at
a demo the cops swipe them from your property. We're on a budget, so we got
a bunch of large plastic whistles at a party supply store.)

While the Commissioners huddled, the direct-action folks were employing a
loud question and answer session, punctuated by spontaneous chants of
"SHAME! SHAME ON YOU!!!" Our creative allies in FNB authored this:

Q.  HOW MANY PEOPLE SEEKING MENTAL ILLNESS TREATMENT LAST YEAR ACTUALLY
RECEIVED IT?
A. 50%

Q.  HOW MANY PEOPLE SEEN FOR MENTAL ILLNESS THROUGH EMERGENCY SERVICES LAST
YEAR WERE HOMELESS?
A. 40%

Q. (a)  WHAT % OF SF COUNTY JAIL CONTAINS PEOPLE WITH SEVERE MENTAL ILLNESS?
A.  11%
Q. (b)  WHAT % OF THAT ARE HOMELESS OR DISPLACED?
A.  85%

Q.  HOW MANY DIAGNOSED MENTAL HEALTH PERSONS ARE PROVIDED HOUSING OR
ASSISTED LIVING?
A.  2%

Q.  HOW MANY MENTALLY ILL PERSONS HAVE BEEN INCARCERATED IN THE US THE PAST
YEAR?
A.  300,000

After this, in one of those only-in-San-Francisco moments, our huddled
targets were choosing to wait for the protest to peter out. Folks were
getting tired, and tensions were on the rise. Then, Commission president
Roma Guy rapped her gavel during a lull in the chants, and the room
exploded, everybody started shouting twice as loud and then we started
singing the "12 Days of Christmas" again, with GUSTO!

Defeated, Katz and the Commissioners chose to slink out of the room past the
protesters, studying their shoetops as they filed past us. Then the public
and Health Dept. members present got up, many coming over to congratulate
us. At this point, I tried to lead a chant of "who's health commission? OUR
HEALTH COMMISSION!" with no success. We had won.

I cracked a joke with one guy I knew from Community Substance Abuse Services
as he left, saying "My idea was for us all to shoot Mitch Katz with Silly
String!" (an ACT-UP San Francisco activist was sentenced to 60 hours of
community service a few weeks ago for doing just that. The charge was
battery.)

On our way out of the building, we saw one possible reason why we lucked out
of an arrest scenario. There were another 100 rank and file members of the
SEIU local picketing outside, and COH and the SEIU are long-time allies.
(6000 local SEIU hospital workers are scheduled to walk off their jobs at
midnight tonight) If the cops had dragged us out past that picket line, they
may have had to arrest a whole lot more people than just us.

Now, before any my online co-conspirators and accomplices consider creating
such a ruckus, please consider that this protest followed years of
legitimate political process and community participation which was met
repeatedly by betrayal. We have successfully lobbied every budget cycle to
prevent cuts to vital mental health services. We have also lobbied to have
funds upwards of $3.2 million ADDED to the budget of SF-DPH's Community
Mental Heath Services since COH's Substance Abuse/Mental Health Work Group
started this campaign, only to see our community processes on how best to
allocate that money roundly ignored or "process-fucked." (Most of the last
chunk of funding we got them went for cost of living allowances in their
salaries, which had been frozen since the last cap). Meanwhile, all those
homeless bodies -- especially folks with what our society terms "psychiatric
illnesses" -- continue to pile up while the city continues to report budget
surpluses exceeding $100 million.

As for Katz and the Health Commissioners? They left their own meeting
because they couldn't deny the blood on their own hands.

peace,

ch@nce

===============================================

PROTEST ENDS HEALTH MEETING
Examiner staff report

More than 100 chanting, singing and stomping demonstrators broke up the
weekly San Francisco Health Commission meeting Tuesday, demanding that the
city provide more money and services for indigent residents with psychiatric
illnesses.

Chanting "treat us, don't beat us!" and singing new lyrics to "The Twelve
Days of Christmas," the protestors entered the commission chambers on the
third floor of the Department of Public Health at 101 Grove St..

Kathleen Gray, organizer for the Coalition on Homelessness, shouted a
prepared speech while sympathizers joined in shout and song. "On the first
day of Christmas my city gave to me, a mayor who doesn't give a damn!"

The protest was centered around four demands, organizers said, including the
full implementation of a "Police Crisis Intervention" program, which was to
provide 40 hours of training for officers confronting psychiatric patients
on the street. Gray said that one-fourth of police calls are for people
having psychiatric crisis.

Attempts by commission President Roma P. Guy to return the meeting to order
were met with louder chanting and singing. The commission left the meeting
after a half hour, and the protestors followed.

(yeah, well it still ain't online but I transcribed for you!)


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