By Paula Lomazzi
Homeward Street Journal
SACRAMENTO, CA. On July 1, Safe Ground Sacramento held a rally,
march and camp-out. It began at Loaves & Fishes’ Delaney
Center parking lot with breakfast and some great songs by Glenn Bailey.
Various news reporters milled around the growing crowd of supporters.
There was a short rally with John Kraintz of the Sacramento Homeless
Organizing Committee welcoming everyone.
Greg Bunker of Francis House spoke on how Sacramento is one community,
and it needs to put aside the ‘us-vs-them’ attitude between social
Long time civil rights attorney Mark Merin spoke on the values of a
society that seems to give to those who have much, and take from those
who have little, making it necessary for good people to stand up for
what is right.
James Little spoke about a recent incident he experienced because he
was homeless. Sharon Hendrix spoke about the need for solidarity.
Jacoby of Pappa Roach and Sr. Libby Fernandez of Loaves & Fishes
confirmed their support and encouraged the participants.
The speeches ended with Garren Bratcher of Loaves & Fishes
explaining the logistics of the march ahead.
Then around 350 homeless, formerly homeless and never been homeless
people, five dogs and a pony marched or trotted 1.2 miles from the
Loaves & Fishes staging area to a piece of City property off
Richards Boulevard to declare it “Safe Ground”.
A team set up a bunch of tents while speakers from San Francisco, San
Jose, Fresno, and Merced offered their solidarity with Sacramentans.
Bill Camp from the AFL-CIO offered his endorsement and support. Rev.
Brian Baker, the Dean of Trinity Cathedral, lead the rally in prayer.
Then there was an open mic session and musical entertainment.
The lot was hot since there were no trees for shade. Also, it
happened to be located next door to the police station. So,
around 1 PM, it was time to move on down the road; through a hole in
the fence, down the road and around the corner by the water treatment
plant, where an inviting park-like setting became the second Safe
Ground declared that day.
The police said campers would receive amnesty for 24 hours and the
sprinklers were to be turned off for the night.
The weather turned drastically cool and pleasant. Over 60 Campers set
up around 25 tents and some cots. Many who were out for the first time
from the overflow shelter were given sleeping bags. The portable toilet
just happened to be placed directly under a street light, so evening
trips without a flashlight were accident free.
Everyone got a $5 McDonald gift certificate, which wasn’t needed for
dinner because Mo Mohanna brought everyone some perfectly prepared
pizza and chicken wings.
People were able to rest without fear of harassment, except for a brief
encounter with Wackenhut security.
Everything was just about perfect, until the next morning when reality
set in and everyone had to tear down their tents and cots, pack up
their gear and re-enter the real world of Sacramento, where homeless
people are not allowed to legally live outdoors, and all emergency
shelters are full, especially since July 1st marked the closing of the
Overflow shelter at Cal-Expo.
The Safe Ground Sacramento Campaign will continue, though, and homeless
campers will declare yet another piece of land as Safe Ground for yet
another night. This time with a growing number of supporters, and
with the plight of the homeless people of Sacramento being less ignored
-- less swept under the rug.
Current organizational sponsors
are: Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee, Loaves & Fishes,
Francis House, Mark Merin Law Offices, Uptown Studios and Phil
Giarrizzo Campaign Consulting. Visit Safe Ground Sacramento’s new
website that Uptown Studios just created at: www.safegroundsac.org.