I’m a Gypsy, at least in the modern-day Western sense of the term. I live with no home because I move around too much to put effort into owning one. I’ve been in San Franshitshow for three months, and I have a full-blown memoir of stupid shit the cops have done since I’ve been here. I’m convinced that nothing would’ve happened if I had a house and a job.
During my time on the Haight, I’ve had too many run-ins with the cops for stupid reasons. Three weeks ago, I was punched in the face by a Goodwill employee for no reason other than that I smelled bad. After punching him back in self-defense, I ended up the person handcuffed on the sidewalk. The cops told me if I wanted to sit in the sun for three hours and stay all summer for court, the man would get a misdemeanor charge. He would still keep his job. Obviously this wasn’t an attractive offer for an up-and-coming artist who was trying to clean up her image. Nothing has happened to avenge the injustice sense.
A few weeks later, a yuppie came out of a bar, whipped out his junk, and took a piss in front of all of us. The cops showed up as soon as my friends started yelling for him to go away. As soon as the cops were informed on what the altercation was about, they immediately cut off their lights and left without a word. I am sure that if one of us, the homeless folk of the Haight, was the offender in question, we would be on the special registry. Instead, the yuppie returned to the bar—where there’s a toilet available to him—unscathed by the law. It wasn’t just stupid. It was downright disgusting.
The cops who worked my Goodwill case have been entrapping me since that day. We call them Ebony and Ivory. They’ve been asking my friends what I’ve been up to while referring to me as “the chunky one.” They even went so far as to tell us they’re “hanging out” on our corner with us to make sure we aren’t doing anything illegal. This all stemmed from the fact that I got punched in the face while doing nothing wrong. Everything they’ve been doing is completely illegal. Apparently, Haight street cops are above the law.
Every street kid knows no sit/no lie. From the hours of 7 am to 11 pm, we aren’t allowed to sit on the sidewalk, even with a lawn chair. The cops have been lying to us telling us we have to get up at 6 am instead of 7am. It shouldn’t be a surprise that yuppies have immunity from this ordinance.
I’ve gotten a ticket for sitting next to a yuppie who got drunk way too early and passed out on the sidewalk around 9:30 PM. Their defense was that the yuppie wasn’t used to being out late, and that they were not blatantly breaking the rule. The yuppie did not know they were breaking the law—therefore, they broke no law.
St. Agnes Church on Masonic has always been one of the safe places to sleep for the homeless of the Haight. After repeated camping tickets in the park, my husband and I retired to the church for overnight refuge from the law. Despite the church’s friendly reputation, we were awoken at 5:30 am by a pair of cops. We were charged with trespassing, despite the fact the church put up the signs the day before, and despite the fact that the only sign was on the other side of the block. We were given no warnings, but we have yet another hundred dollar ticket under each of our belts. The cops had no explanation as to how this could possibly be just, let alone fair. They just tough toenails-ed us and sent us on our groggy way.
There are plenty of adjectives I could use to describe San Francisco’s anti-homeless laws and the way the police enforce them. “Stupid” seems to fit the best for the purposes of explaining what I’ve gone through on Haight Street. The cops want us to leave their city, but they’ve got quite another thing coming. I’ll be here all summer, and I am their worst nightmare.