ALERT: Berkeley, CA police take aim at homeless street youths FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 8 Nov 1998 08:35:41 -0400


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3,000+ posts by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
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http://webserv1.startribune.com/cgi-bin/stOnLine/article?thisStory=55717334
FWD  Star Tribune - Sunday, November 8, 1998


FAMOUSLY LIBERAL BERKELEY TAKES AIM AT HOMELESS YOUTHS

         New York Times


BERKELEY, CALIF. -- The young street people were leaning against
a store window, watching the police watching them from a
second-floor window across the avenue.

"They'll arrest us for anything now," Justin Montgomery, 22, said as
he dragged on a cigarette. "They're just waiting for any excuse at all."

"They say we scare people," said Orin Wells, 21, who was sitting on
the sidewalk clutching a chubby puppy. "Are we scary?"

Whether they are scared or just plain fed up, plenty of people in the
nation's most famously liberal city want the youths, panhandlers, drug
addicts, drinkers, mentally ill and homeless swept off Telegraph Av.,
the shopping district in Berkeley mentioned in every tourist guide.

Late last month, the all-Democratic City Council unanimously passed
an emergency measure authorizing police overtime to fight the drug
dealing and disperse the entrenched camps of the homeless. The police
have been all over Telegraph Av., in squad cars, on bicycles and in
front of businesses.

"They've started turning things around," said Andy Ross, owner of
Cody's Books, a hangout that has stood at the most popular gathering
spot for the homeless, the corner of Telegraph Av. and Haste St., for
21 years. "A few days ago," Ross said, "there were 50 people camped
out in front of Cody's dealing drugs and menacing my customers."

Store owners started complaining about the youths at least a year ago.
In particular, they have complained about the young people who come
from all over the country to linger on Telegraph and Haste. The
situation is much like that in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district,
which is also showing signs of battle fatigue.

Homeless people have congregated on Telegraph Av. for 30 years, but
many locals say the more recent newcomers have more than tested the
limits of tolerance with their drinking, drug dealing, defecating,
urinating and aggressive panhandling. Not to mention their sheer
numbers: 20 to 30 congregate at any one time in one corner, most of
them with dogs.

Last month, when one store, Half Price Books, announced it was
moving out because of the youths, and five others threatened to do the
same, Mayor Shirley Dean declared that the situation had gone from
"severe to critical."

"This used to be a vibrant place," Dean said. "It's not anymore. It's
become a menacing place where hard, hard drugs are dealt, there have
been people having sex on the sidewalks, S&M sex on the sidewalk,
anti-Semitic graffiti."

Business down

In recent weeks, before the crackdown, two windows at Cody's
Books were smashed, one apparently by a vandal, the other by a
young man who was shoved into it in a fight, Ross said. In recent
months, business has dropped by 15 percent in the day, he said, 75
percent at night.

At night, many of the youths had taken to sleeping along the wall,
cocooned in blankets, bodies scattered like bowling pins. In the
daytime, they would use the wall as a back rest as they smoked pot and
sold drugs.

Now, the people who are still hanging around gather in small, wary
clutches.

Homeless advocates question the timing of the crackdown, just before
the mayor and half the City Council members were up for reelection.
"We really believe this is an election-motivated issue," said Sally
Hindman, executive director of the Chaplaincy for the Homeless,
which runs a drop-in center for homeless runaway youth a block from
Telegraph Av. "There is something appealing to people about hearing
tough-on-crime talk."

Hindman said the city would be wiser to address the problems of
homelessness, rather than criminalize the behavior of the people on the
street.

"On any night, there are 1,000 to 1,200 people sleeping on the streets
of Berkeley," she said. "Half of them are deinstitutionalized mentally
ill people. It's like a mental ward on the streets. Some of them are on
drugs. But we have no detox center in Berkeley."

Hindman said that the youths, most of them between 18 and 25, tend
to come from severely troubled families.

The mayor said she is proposing a plan that involves both increased
social services for the homeless youths and "tough love." That
includes pushing them off the streets with an anti-encampment
ordinance. "I don't think they'll seek services if they don't get a
nudge," she said.

'Interesting'

Some of the young people have come up with their own plan, which
they presented to the City Council last month. They promise that they
will stop urinating and sleeping on Telegraph Av., panhandle in
smaller groups, keep their dogs on leashes and pick up their trash. In
return, they have asked the city to provide more trash cans, create a
dog run, clean the public bathrooms more often and open Berkeley's
first shelter for young people.

The mayor called the plan "interesting."

But on Telegraph and Haste, there were grumblings that the city would
never take the plan seriously.

"They're making us out to be devils," Orin Wells said. He said he
comes to Berkeley from British Columbia when the weather gets cold
there. "People are getting arrested for selling $10 worth of pot," Wells
said.

Nearby, a group of homeless people were quietly nodding. Wells
shook his head in disgust. "This is Telegraph and Haste," he said.
"My parents used to hang out here when they were young. This is a
part of history, whether they like it or not."

END FORWARD
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page
ARCHIVES  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN
TO JOIN  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <wgcp@earthlink.net>
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3,000+ posts by or via homeless & ex-homeless people

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>

__________

http://webserv1.startribune.com/cgi-bin/stOnLine/article?thisStory=55717334

FWD  Star Tribune - Sunday, November 8, 1998



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>FAMOUSLY LIBERAL BERKELEY TAKES
AIM AT HOMELESS YOUTHS

</paraindent>

         New York Times



BERKELEY, CALIF. -- The young street people were leaning against

a store window, watching the police watching them from a

second-floor window across the avenue.


"They'll arrest us for anything now," Justin Montgomery, 22, said as

he dragged on a cigarette. "They're just waiting for any excuse at
all."


"They say we scare people," said Orin Wells, 21, who was sitting on

the sidewalk clutching a chubby puppy. "Are we scary?"


Whether they are scared or just plain fed up, plenty of people in the

nation's most famously liberal city want the youths, panhandlers, drug

addicts, drinkers, mentally ill and homeless swept off Telegraph Av.,

the shopping district in Berkeley mentioned in every tourist guide.


Late last month, the all-Democratic City Council unanimously passed

an emergency measure authorizing police overtime to fight the drug

dealing and disperse the entrenched camps of the homeless. The police

have been all over Telegraph Av., in squad cars, on bicycles and in

front of businesses.


"They've started turning things around," said Andy Ross, owner of

Cody's Books, a hangout that has stood at the most popular gathering

spot for the homeless, the corner of Telegraph Av. and Haste St., for

21 years. "A few days ago," Ross said, "there were 50 people camped

out in front of Cody's dealing drugs and menacing my customers."


Store owners started complaining about the youths at least a year ago.

In particular, they have complained about the young people who come

from all over the country to linger on Telegraph and Haste. The

situation is much like that in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury
district,

which is also showing signs of battle fatigue.


Homeless people have congregated on Telegraph Av. for 30 years, but

many locals say the more recent newcomers have more than tested the

limits of tolerance with their drinking, drug dealing, defecating,

urinating and aggressive panhandling. Not to mention their sheer

numbers: 20 to 30 congregate at any one time in one corner, most of

them with dogs.


Last month, when one store, Half Price Books, announced it was

moving out because of the youths, and five others threatened to do the

same, Mayor Shirley Dean declared that the situation had gone from

"severe to critical."


"This used to be a vibrant place," Dean said. "It's not anymore. It's

become a menacing place where hard, hard drugs are dealt, there have

been people having sex on the sidewalks, S&M sex on the sidewalk,

anti-Semitic graffiti."


Business down  


In recent weeks, before the crackdown, two windows at Cody's

Books were smashed, one apparently by a vandal, the other by a

young man who was shoved into it in a fight, Ross said. In recent

months, business has dropped by 15 percent in the day, he said, 75

percent at night.


At night, many of the youths had taken to sleeping along the wall,

cocooned in blankets, bodies scattered like bowling pins. In the

daytime, they would use the wall as a back rest as they smoked pot and

sold drugs.


Now, the people who are still hanging around gather in small, wary

clutches.


Homeless advocates question the timing of the crackdown, just before

the mayor and half the City Council members were up for reelection.

"We really believe this is an election-motivated issue," said Sally

Hindman, executive director of the Chaplaincy for the Homeless,

which runs a drop-in center for homeless runaway youth a block from

Telegraph Av. "There is something appealing to people about hearing

tough-on-crime talk."


Hindman said the city would be wiser to address the problems of

homelessness, rather than criminalize the behavior of the people on
the

street.


"On any night, there are 1,000 to 1,200 people sleeping on the streets

of Berkeley," she said. "Half of them are deinstitutionalized mentally

ill people. It's like a mental ward on the streets. Some of them are
on

drugs. But we have no detox center in Berkeley."


Hindman said that the youths, most of them between 18 and 25, tend

to come from severely troubled families.


The mayor said she is proposing a plan that involves both increased

social services for the homeless youths and "tough love." That

includes pushing them off the streets with an anti-encampment

ordinance. "I don't think they'll seek services if they don't get a

nudge," she said.


'Interesting'  


Some of the young people have come up with their own plan, which

they presented to the City Council last month. They promise that they

will stop urinating and sleeping on Telegraph Av., panhandle in

smaller groups, keep their dogs on leashes and pick up their trash. In

return, they have asked the city to provide more trash cans, create a

dog run, clean the public bathrooms more often and open Berkeley's

first shelter for young people.


The mayor called the plan "interesting."


But on Telegraph and Haste, there were grumblings that the city would

never take the plan seriously.


"They're making us out to be devils," Orin Wells said. He said he

comes to Berkeley from British Columbia when the weather gets cold

there. "People are getting arrested for selling $10 worth of pot,"
Wells

said.


Nearby, a group of homeless people were quietly nodding. Wells

shook his head in disgust. "This is Telegraph and Haste," he said.

"My parents used to hang out here when they were young. This is a

part of history, whether they like it or not."


END FORWARD

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink.net>

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