Mike Zint. Homeless Not Heartless. Rest in Peace

By Sarah Menefee, People’s Tribune and co-founder of ‘First they came for the homeless’

Mike Zint, longtime homeless leader in the San Francisco Bay Area, died of chronic lung disease and pneumonia on Valentine’s Day, 2020, surrounded by family and close friends from the movement he inspired and founded.

From his experience in OccupySF, through our homeless led organization, ‘First they came for the homeless, through many actions on both sides of the Bay, which included a post office defense against privatization; the Poor Tour tent action (raided 18 times); four Liberty City tent occupations at Berkeley Old City Hall, and the founding of a stable self-governed tent community in South Berkeley, a center of wider solidarity to others.

He was feared by the powers that be; an independent voice of the homeless movement: fiercely fought for their self-determination and right to exist and shelter themselves if the government wouldn’t, and demanded that the government fulfill its responsibility to all.  

He was clear about the fact of homelessness as a social fail caused by an unjust system, and gave his life to living through action an alternative way. He was a master strategist and writer: he went straight to the truth of things with every act and word. He was also one of the most noble people I have ever known, and the most human. He gave his life to his practical vision, and gave credit to the ‘universe’ for everything he did. ‘I just sit here in my tent’ he would say, ‘and the universe does it’.

The loss of Mike is profound and grievous, but his truth lives on. He changed the world. The movement he was such an important part of continues this vision of ‘an idea whose time has come’. He was a master revolutionary in the very best sense of the word. Mike wrote many articles for the People’s Tribune. He was a master writer and teacher as well as an organizer. This is a profound loss, to the movement he was so important to, as well to those who loved him, but ideas whose time have come can’t die. We pledge to continue his and our vision of a transformed world. 

A Tribute to Mike Zint by  Berkeley Post Office Defenders (BPOD)

The below tribute poem, along with the photos that reflect some of the actions Mike Zint organized, was written and assembled by JP Massar, of OccupyOakland and the Berkeley Post Office Defense.

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