Homeless sweeps in San Francisco criticized by national activists

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 6 Oct 1999 21:07:56 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Associated Press - Sunday, October 3, 1999


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Activists from across the country have criticized San
Francisco for its aggressive treatment of homeless people.

About 200 people gathered Saturday to discuss the protection of homeless
people's civil rights.

``There is a growing intolerance of the homeless around the nation,'' said
Bill Faith, board president of the National Coalition for the Homeless,
which held its annual meeting in San Francisco during the weekend.

``Part of the reason the coalition wanted to come to San Francisco is
because we have heard for years about the civil rights abuses that go on
here that are more egregious than most cities.''

In January, San Francisco was one of five cities named as being especially
tough on the homeless, relying on police to harass the homeless rather than
employing social service programs to find them health care, jobs and homes,
said the report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty in

The report also criticized Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Tucson, Ariz. for
``criminalizing'' rather than treating homelessness.

In San Francisco, homeless advocates have been angered by police sweeps
clearing the homeless out of public parks and plazas, and a series of
proposals aimed at controlling panhandling and using shopping carts.

Mayor Willie Brown has defended homeless sweeps as an improvement of
quality of life.

``The homeless aren't the only ones to have a right to public space,''
Brown responded, when his homeless policies came under attack in January.


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