ALERT: San Francisco police evict homeless squatters FWD

Tom Boland (
Fri, 25 Sep 1998 15:38:31 -0400
FWD  San Francisco Chronicle   Thursday, September 24, 1998   Page A19

          Steve Rubenstein, Chronicle Staff Writer

              The cops came at sunrise to the homeless camp in the shadow
of the Fourth Street Bridge and the message was familiar -- pack up and
move along.

              About three dozen homeless people said yesterday that they
were told by a handful of San Francisco police officers to leave their
tents and lean-tos or face immediate arrest.

              A police lieutenant said officers will return today to post
notices telling the homeless people to leave. Next week they will begin
arresting and jailing anyone still there.

              ``They tell you to go,'' said Dorothea Carter. ``They don't
tell you where to go, they just tell you to go.''

              Carter, 52, has been living in a tent with her two teddy
bears and a stack of Stephen King novels for about a year, ever since
breaking her ankle and losing her job as a janitor.

              ``This stuff,'' she said, pointing to a plastic bag full of
clothes and some milk crates full of odds and ends, ``is all I have in the

              For several weeks, the small community a block west of the
Giants' new ballpark has been growing. The half-acre site, tucked among the
weeds alongside the China Basin Channel, is jammed with blue tarps,
barbecue grills, old blankets and supermarket shopping carts filled with
everything but groceries.

              Rochelle White said she and her husband, Alex, have been
homeless for about a year, too. She has chosen not to live with her three
grown children.

              ``I love my kids but they have their lives to live and I have
mine,'' she said.

              The police said they have received ``complaints'' from nearby
residents about the squatters.

              Shortly before noon, a police officer accompanied by a
Department of Public Works truck returned briefly to the encampment but
left when photographers began taking pictures.

              Police Lieutenant Jere Williams said officers had received
complaints about litter and sanitation problems from merchants in the China
Basin building across the street and from the Catellus Development Corp.,
which owns the site.

              ``They're trespassing on private property,'' Williams said.
``They can't stay.''

              Mara Raider, a coordinator for the Coalition on Homelessness
visited the camp yesterday and said it was unfair to evict the residents
without providing them another place to live.

              ``There's no place for these people to go,'' Raider said.
``The authorities tell them not to camp in the parks, or in front of
downtown businesses, or in doorways, and so they end up down here, and now
they can't stay here either.''


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