Homeless Camp Out at City Hall to Protest Police Treatment
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ About two dozen of the city’s homeless marched from Balboa Park to City Hall Monday night to launch what one organizer called an ``extended campout.″
They are demanding that city officials stop trying to sweep them off the streets in preparation for next month’s Republican National Convention.
``This is not a protest, this is an extended campout,″ said march organizer Larry Milligan. ``People are being taken to jail not because of alcohol and drug problems, but simply because they’re homeless, because they’re too tired to move anywhere.″
Milligan, who used to be homeless, now operates a food truck at Balboa Park two nights a week. Other participants in the march said they wanted city officials to change policy long after the 30,000 expected guests arrive for the GOP convention.
Among some of their demands are a 24-hour ``safe-site″ where people can sleep and leave their belongings, more public restroom facilities and hotel vouchers.
The demonstrators said they would sleep at City Hall, less than two miles from where the GOP delegates will meet, throughout the convention.
There are an estimated 4,000 homeless in the downtown area, Milligan said. Other homeless people said recently they’ve been receiving tickets for sleeping in public at a higher rate and have been taken to jail for not being able to pay them.
``They’re trying to push us aside,″ said Chris Giroux, 27, homeless for eight weeks. ``I lost my job, my car broke down, and I’m sleeping in the museum now. Everybody has a stroke of bad luck.″
City officials denied they have been acting any differently towards the homeless as the Aug. 12-15 convention approaches.
``Their original complaint was that the mayor or someone else had directed this to happen,″ said Mary Anne Pintar, spokeswoman for Mayor Susan Golding. ``However, the police are enforcing that policy will be the way it is enforced during the convention.″
More than 1,680 tickets for minor offenses were issued in 1995 to homeless, but in 1994, only 130 of those tickets were given out to homeless people, Milligan said. City officials wouldn’t disclose the number of citations issued this year.