Same Old Christmas Story Playing Out

After staying at a small, makeshift camp at Franklin Park for more than eight months, one group of homeless people’s luck ran out two days before Christmas. City workers picked up the people’s belongings to take to storage, and in the process two tents were destroyed.

Homeless advocate Alley Valkyrie spoke with the people whose tents were destroyed and wrote in a public Facebook post, “This is your tax dollars at work, kids. We can’t afford to shelter them, but they’re somehow able to find the time and money to confiscate and destroy the worldly possessions of people who have almost nothing, two days before the vast majority of the country celebrates the birth of a man who commanded his followers to reject wealth and give to the poor.” Valkyrie says the people told her that 24-hour notice was given on Dec. 9 or 10, and when no one came to ask them to leave by Dec. 23, they thought they were safe.

“As far as I know, the tents were dismantled, but nothing was intentionally destroyed,” says Richard Zucker, a Parks and Open Space supervisor who was not directly involved with confiscating the tents. “We followed the direction of the ruling of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals about what to do with possessions that are left unattended on public property. In the case of campsites, we do post 24 hours in advance, and we inform the people that they’re camping illegally and they need to pick up their possessions and move.”

“Even with notice, confiscating people’s belongings two days before Christmas is inhumane,” Valkyrie says. “It’s near freezing out and a tent is the only shelter a homeless person has. Everyone knows that there’s no legal place to go. If they were so worried about court rulings, they would stop criminalizing sleep when there is no shelter.”