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Fresno Homeless Attacked and Insulted by City Workers
12 years ago Fresno Homeless Attacked and Insulted by City Workers By Mike Rhodes "The homeless people that live here are the luckiest homeless in Fresno." Surprised by the statement, I asked undercover Fresno Police Officer Ray Wallace what he meant. "They have maid service. We come out and clean up for them about every other week." The cleaning party today was particularly vigorous. The letter handed out by the Fresno Police Department, giving notice of the "clean up" said they would "start at 8:00am." I arrived at 7:50 AM and the destruction of property was already well under way. One homeless woman told me that everything she owned had been destroyed because she was a few minutes too late to save it. "I had paper work in there that can’t be replaced," she said. Once the "clean up" crew had made its way all of the way down the Caltrans property on E street (on the West side of E near Ventura) they swung around and headed down the East side of E street. This caught the homeless community completely off guard. Until today the City Sanitation Department would go down the Caltrans strip of land with a bulldozer, sweep it clean, and then leave. The homeless, every other time this had happened, simply moved their possessions to the other side of the street. After the clean up crew was gone, the homeless would move back to the East side of the street and re-build their encampment. But, today the Fresno Sanitation Department, backed up by a larger than usual Fresno Police Department contingent, made a U turn and pulled onto the East side of E street. Stunned homeless people watched as all the possessions they had removed from Caltrans property were loaded into the dump truck. The shopping carts and piles of possessions stacked up on the sidewalk, on the East side of E street were thought to be safe because no notice had been given that there would be a change in procedures. Many of the homeless had removed their possessions as instructed and then left to eat, work, or do whatever they would normally do on a Thursday morning. As officer Wallace directed the clean up crew to throw away anything not in the possession of someone, the homeless people still in the area mobilized to save whatever they could. One clean up crew supervisor was overheard saying "I wish I had a nickel for every cart we destroy." Dallas Blanchard, from Food Not Bombs, tried to prevent the workers from throwing the homeless peoples possessions away. He was forced from his position directly in back of the garbage truck. Liza Apper from the St. Benedict Catholic Worker stood in front of some shopping carts. She was repeatedly told to move but refused. Apper was able to save a couple of grocery carts full of items. But that did not stop the police and the clean up crew. They simply moved a few feet beyond Apper and threw entire carts into the dump truck. Several people tried to pull their possessions back to the West side of the street (Caltrans land) and as they arrived were told the Garbage truck would be back to throw their things away. With no safe place to go, some of the homeless just stood by their carts to protect them. The police and clean up crew did not forcefully remove people to destroy their possessions. Henry, an African American homeless man who lives on E street told me that officer Wallace had prevented him from removing his tent. "I was trying to untie my tent from the fence and this guy came up behind me and told me to leave. He was not in uniform and did not identify himself as a policeman." Henry continues, "this guy (Wallace) hit my hands as I tried to untie my tent." Henry said he was physically forced to leave his tent, which was then picked up by a bulldozer and put into a garbage truck. Henry is a diabetic. "My medicine was in that tent, everything I owned was in that tent and they just destroyed it." Henry said the incident happened in April 2006. Another homeless person, Dee, told me she witnessed the incident. Wallace denies the assault took place. After targeting both sides of E street, the FPD and the Sanitation Department headed for Santa Clara street. Santa Clara runs into E and is in front of the Poverello House. Many of the homeless people who use the services at the Poverello House (food, clothing, and some medical services) leave their carts on Santa Clara. There were about 20 carts there when the garbage truck arrived. None of the owners were with their carts. The truck backed up and workers started throwing one cart after another in, crushing them. As the word of the destruction spread the owners came running out of the Poverello House yelling and telling the city workers to stop. Those homeless people who made it there in time and stood in front of their cart were able to save their possessions from destruction. I requested a comment from the Fresno Police Department about the incidents above, but at the time our deadline, they did not respond. For more information and background, see: *fair use*
12 years ago

"City of Fresno attacks on the homeless reached a new level today as a multi agency task force used new tactics in destroying their possessions. Photos, video, and story below."- fair use for humanitarian purposes

12 years ago

"These two women moved this tent from one side of the street to another in an attempt to save it from destruction. All Photos by Mike Rhodes"- fair use for humanitarian purposes

homeless moved their possessions to the East side of E street in an effort to keep them from being d
12 years ago

"The homeless moved their possessions to the East side of E street in an effort to keep them from being destroyed."- fair use for humanitarian purposes

City workers throw someone's bed onto garbage truck
12 years ago

"This is the scene on the West side of E street where City crews leveled the area. Here they are seen throwing someone’s bed into a garbage truck."- fair use for humanitarian purposes

Liz Apper stands ground, protects homeless possessions
12 years ago

"Officer Ray Wallace is telling Liza Apper to leave. Instead, she stands her ground and protects some of the homeless peoples possessions."- fair use for humanitarian purposes

Liza Apper talks to a KMJ reporter
12 years ago

"Liza Apper is seen here, next to some of the possessions she saved from destruction, as she talks to a KMJ radio reporter."- fair use for humanitarian purposes

Shortly after this photo was taken, Dept of Sanitation threw carts into garbage truck
12 years ago

"These are some of the carts that are in front of the Poverello House, while their owners get food or other services. A few minutes after this photo was taken, the Department of Sanitation arrived and started throwing these carts into a garbage truck."- fair use for humanitarian purposes

One sanitation worker said he wished he could get a nickle for every shopping cart
12 years ago
Video of City Workers As They Destroy People’s Property
12 years ago
Video of City Workers As They Destroy People’s Property by Mike Rhodes Thursday Jun 22nd, 2006 1:48 PM video: iwishihadanickel.wmv windows media at 3.3 mebibytes
Homeless Return After Downtown Fresno Sweep
12 years ago June 23, 2006 - Some of the homeless people forced to leave their camps in Downtown Fresno are back at the same spot. City crews targeted E Street near Ventura and G Street near Santa Clara yesterday. The city has conducted several similar sweeps in an effort to keep the area clean. The move wasn't a complete a surprise to those forced out; police gave advance notice last week. But once clean-up crews moved out, many of the homeless moved right back in. A wall or fence around the area could be part of a long-term solution. *fair use*
12 years ago

I am totally horrified by this information. I see many homeless in my area with their carts and/or shopping bags, and I know how valuable these possessions are to them!

This is a blatant disregard for their dignity and a lack of concern for their humanity. My question now is, do you know what we can do to help?

Karimah, my apologies!
12 years ago
I didn't see your reply until just now! I agree- it is a horrible, inhumane situation. As to what we can do... I feel that this is where Care2 should be making a difference. For example, just now I did a Member search... and there are 2,141 Care2 members in the Fresno area! Maybe not all 2,141 of them are interested in helping the homeless, but some of them might be. In that case, they could 1) form a local Homeless Community Aid online group for Fresno, 2) cibtact individual homeless people and 3) local homeless organizations in the Fresno area and see what can be done to better the situation. They can advocate that the personal rights of homeless people be respected... they can talk with homeless people and see what they want and need... if there are homeless people there who use the Internet they can talk to us directly... we ourselves can contact the Fresno police, Fresno city hall, etc. and speak on behalf of the homeless. SOMETHING needs to happen! Something for the better, that is!!
Fresno Police Department Raid Homeless Encampment (Again)
12 years ago Fresno Police Department Raid Homeless Encampment (Again) by Mike Rhodes ( MikeRhodes [at] ) Saturday Jul 1st, 2006 2:38 PM The Fresno Police Department, having apparently solved all other crime in Fresno, sent a task force to a homeless encampment and stole their shopping carts this morning. The Fresno Police Department (FPD) continued their attack on the homeless in downtown Fresno this morning. Three patrol cars, a paddy wagon, a squad of officers, and a City owned flat bed truck arrived just after dawn today to raid the homeless encampment on E street, just South of Ventura. According to several eyewitness accounts, the police were there to seize shopping carts, used by the homeless. The homeless use the shopping carts to store and move their possessions from one location to another. Unlike previous raids, the homeless were given no notice that this FPD led operation was about to take place. The strip of property occupied by the homeless is public land owned by Caltrans (Department of Transportation). A little over a week ago the FPD was involved in an operation that resulted in the destruction of numerous shopping carts, filled with the property of the homeless. Ellen (not her real name) told me that a raid like what happened this morning has never happened before. She said “a lot of these carts were old and could no longer be used by grocery stores. People give us these carts or we find them abandon on the side of the road. The police did not ask us if these were our carts or not, they just took them.” Ellen said that on several occasions people from churches or other groups have come by and dropped off carts that are no longer being used by grocery stores. She said that some of the carts may have belonged to grocery stores but that the police did not ask about ownership. “They just came out here, took my cart, and dumped all of my stuff on the ground. That is just not right,” Ellen said. The police took the name of each person in possession of a cart and, according to Ellen, told them that if they were found with a cart again they would be cited for theft. The police then turned each cart over, dumping the homeless peoples possessions on the dirt. They loaded the shopping carts onto a flatbed truck and hauled them away. “Now they are going to come back, like they do every couple of weeks, and throw all of our things in a garbage truck. Without shopping carts we have no way of removing our stuff when they come.” For background information about the frequent attacks on the homeless in Fresno see: Ellen said this was the first time she is aware that the FPD has come and taken the shopping carts. She said “someone working for the grocery stores has come by before and collected the carts. But, they did not come with the police.” Why are the police taking an increasingly aggressive role in harassing the homeless? In an earlier inquiry to the FPD, they claimed they were only playing a supportive role in helping Caltrans, who owns the property, clean up. As Chief Information Officer Jeff Cardinale said, “we are just there to keep the peace.” Cardinale claimed Caltrans had requested their assistance. Caltrans officials say their agency has been responding to a petition from the City of Fresno on file with the Caltrans office to “clean up” this strip of land (on E street just South of Ventura). In response to a Public Records Act request Caltrans provided this Indymedia reporter with an Encroachment Permit. The Permit, which is posted below, is not from the City of Fresno and is not responsive to the request. Further Public Records Act requests are being filed to get to the bottom of who is behind these relentless attacks on the homeless. When asked why the homeless were under attack, Ellen said she thought the Poverello House (a homeless agency nearby) was behind it. She said “every time the police come out here, this guy from the Poverello House comes out and watches. I think having all these homeless people living out here makes it look like they are not doing their job.” The police and City spokespeople often cite the Poverello House as a place where the homeless could go to get off the street. The Poverello House has several tool sheds they have opened up to the homeless to sleep in, as an alternative to sleeping on the street. “With temperatures over a 100 degrees these days, I wouldn’t let my dog sleep in those tool sheds,” Ellen added. Other homeless people I talked to said the police and city officials would like to make life so miserable for the homeless that they leave and go to another town. Some community activists think the developers who are seeking to revitalize Chinatown are behind the attacks. The theory behind that is the old adage - “Follow the Money.” Still others suggest that the attack on the homeless is part of the right wing agenda coming from City Hall or the FPD. That theory goes something like - It is kind to be cruel. In other words, by making life miserable for the homeless, you will make them want to turn their lives around and become productive citizens. It is the “Strong Father” model discussed in George Lakoff’s book, Don’t Think of and Elephant. Indymedia will continue to follow this story and bring you the news as it develops. *fair use*
Shopping Cart Raid on Homeless Encampment in Fresno (again)
12 years ago
My humble thoughts on this.
12 years ago

This is what I was hearing while reading this thread!!

Well, just like my hometown, it is after all, Tourist Season!!! Cannot let the tourists see the real deal here. The inhumane living conditions we allow our citizens to squander and die in.  Wouldnt want to lose any Tourism revenue, on account of them people.

( The Land is Owned by the Dept. Of Transportation ) in Fresno, meaning it could be leased for affordable public housing. If they wanted to, that is.

All they have accomplished, is taking their citizens who need help the most, and STEALING their Possesions. Why were their not any theft charges laid!!  You take something that belongs to me and not you! I will lay charges. 

Why did the workers not seem to mind doing this EVIL deed??? Fresno, it'll be a Cold Day In Hell, before I would visit a city that treats any of its citizens in this horrid way. You have just added more misery on the people you should be working this hard to help!! Big Shame On You Fresno!!!!  Pizzed in Halifax, Lyn

well said, Lyn!
12 years ago
I can't (and wouldn't want to) express it better than you just did! Definitely Fresno deserves a place on Ruben Botello's Homelessworld's Boycott list: Global Boycotts for Homeless Rights
Mobile Home Fire Leaves Man Homeless
12 years ago July 4, 2006 - A fire has left a Fresno man without a home the Fourth of July. It happened just after midnight Tuesday morning at the Villa Capri Mobile Home Park on Herndon Avenue west of Blackstone Avenue. Firefighters say a fire started in a trash can inside the trailer and sent the whole mobile home up in flames. The man living there woke up to the smell of smoke, but was not able to put out the fire. He was able to get out safely. A nearby trailer had some minor damage. *fair use*
Homeless in Fresno Ordered off "The Island"
12 years ago Homeless in Fresno Ordered off "The Island" By Mike Rhodes Joanna Garcia, who is a homeless women in Fresno, said the California Highway Patrol came to her tent today, telling her to get her things and leave - immediately. The two officers had shotguns and Garcia knew they were serious. Garcia and about a dozen other homeless men and women live on a narrow strip of land, owned by the State of California (Caltrans), near highway 99. Joanna Garcia They have lived on what they call "the island" since the sanitation department, backed up by the Fresno Police Department, bulldozed their last shelter. See that story here: . There is now a preliminary injunction, issued by the Federal Court, to stop the City of Fresno from further attacks that take and immediately destroy homeless peoples property. preliminary injuction CHP officer Perry Miller told Joanna and the other homeless people on the island that the injunction does not apply to this situation. Joanna said "they told us that Caltrans was going to measure the distance around the island and that we have to be gone by the time he is done." But, the Caltrans worker came, did his work, and left without the CHP coming back to further threaten Joanna and her friends. Officer Miller and Sergeant Lawrence Gale explained the operation to me. Miller said that "we first give them a verbal warning . . . If they don’t leave I will issue them a citation. . . If they still don’t leave, we will arrest them." According to Miller and Gale, if the homeless on this strip of land do not remove their property, Caltrans will bring in a truck and remove it. Both Miller and Gale said the property would be stored at a Caltrans facility for 90 days and the owners could claim it. Officer Gale had been involved in the August 26, 2006 raid when the homeless were removed from the Caltrans strip of land on E street (see link above). Gale said he was brought in because of a jurisdictional dispute. The FPD wanted to remove the homeless, there was at least one person who refused to move, but the land was not technically in the FPD’s jurisdiction. Since that time, Caltrans and the CHP have met and discussed their strategy for removing the homeless. Caltrans, according to Gale and Miller, are the moving party in this raid. They (Caltrans) directed the CHP to move in, give the verbal warnings, take photos, and wait. If the homeless do not move fast enough in removing their shelters, they will give them a citation. If after receiving a citation they still don’t move fast enough, they will be arrested. How fast is fast enough? Neither Gale or Miller would say. Gale and Miller did say that Caltrans is going to put a fence around this strip of land. Fences have gone up elsewhere in downtown Fresno to keep the homeless off Caltrans property. There are fences around a strip of land on E street and there are fences around an abandon overpass near H street. Most of the homeless people who were displaced today did not know where they were going to end up tonight. There are no camping areas in Fresno where they can safely set up a tent. There are only a couple hundred shelter beds for the (estimated) 8,000+ homeless in Fresno and all of those beds come with significant restrictions (for example the largest homeless shelter in town is for men only). Gale and Miller acknowledge that there is nowhere for the homeless to go, where they can live without the threat of being forced to leave at a moments notice. Officer Miller said he was just doing his job and that coming up with a plan to treat the homeless with dignity and respect was a policy decision that would be made at a higher level. Cynthia Greene by Mike Rhodes Tuesday Jan 2nd, 2007 10:04 PM *fair use*
for more info, see this thread
12 years ago
ACLU sues Fresno saying homeless raids violate civil rights

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