By TJ Johnston
A woman who is probably experiencing homelessness was struck by a driver in the Bayview District, an eyewitness said.
Kyle Borland, a freelance publicist who lives in the neighborhood, recounted an apparent road-rage incident near Third Street and Wallace Avenue last month on Twitter.
“Holy shit! This driver just TURNED AROUND to hit a homeless woman twice in front of our apartment,” he posted on August 18.
Street Sheet contacted Borland, who saw the incident from his house. The victim was an unidentified African American woman, who appeared to be in her late 40s or early 50s, and was carrying a sleeping bag, a book and a bottle of Pedialyte, he said.
“My partner and I were picking up a delivery downstairs,” Borland said. “The driver was at the light, waiting to turn right or left on Third when the homeless woman crossed the street in front of him. For some reason, she stopped in front of his car and didn’t move.”
“They proceeded to yell obscenities at each other, and when he finally went around her, he did a U-turn in the intersection to hit her in the street,” he said.
Upon impact, the woman and her possessions were sent flying in the air. The driver attempted to run her over again until Borland yelled out to him, then drove away. The victim rose quickly, appeared to be disoriented and declined any assistance in gathering her stuff before storming off, Borland said.
Borland added that he reported it to the police, who told him that they couldn’t take further action without the victim available or the license plate on the vehicle.
Were it not for Borland’s tweet, this incident would have remained unknown. It stands in sharp contrast with Paneez Kosarian, an Embarcadero resident whose attack by an apparently mentally ill, homeless man in her condo drew media attention and turned into a flashpoint in neighborhood opposition to a new navigation center.
Assaults and other crimes against homeless people are seldom reported, much less solved, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. The Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization tallied 1,769 attacks on unhoused people throughout the U.S. since 1999. The national coalition also noted that homeless people are more likely to suffer violent crimes than the general population.
However, the physical safety of unsheltered folk should be addressed, Borland said. In his Twitter thread, he wrote, “As San Franciscans, we do a lot of talking. We discuss the mental health and violence ‘of the homeless’ and the solutions to these ‘issues.’ But, no one questions the psyche of comfortable, housed humans who go out of their way to attack and vilify the vulnerable. We should.”