“Everything I Ever Had is Gone … How Could They Compensate Me?”: Interview with Veronica Ocampo

by the Stolen Belonging Team

My name is Veronica Ocampo. I’ve been here for over 15 years. The other night I had gotten into it with this guy and he came back to my tent later that night when I was by myself, and he was trying to start problems. I was a little shaken up so I left. When I came back the police and DPW [the Public Works department] had taken everything. 

It really sucked because my friend Couper had just given me a couple of brand new things, like a brand new tent, blankets, some female products, some hygiene products and stuff. They also took my wigs, my phone, my speaker, clothes, my stoves, all my jewelry and makeup. Everything was in there. They were my belongings. This is all I had. I like to take showers and change my clothes. And I like to look nice. I like to listen to my music. I don’t even have a phone right now. 

San Francisco resident Veronica Ocampo gestures as if she is showing the most beloved and irreplaceable items stolen from her in the sweeps: rings that her son gave her. Photo by Leslie Dreyer

Can you tell us about the items that DPW took from you in the sweeps that you find irreplaceable? 

It was all my grandmother’s jewelry that she gave me, and the necklace my brother gave me. Both of them are dead right now. I don’t even have my rings. My son, he gives me rings all the time, more than one ring on every finger. So all that stuff is gone. I should’ve never taken them off though. 

Everything I ever had is gone. 

How do you think the City should compensate you for this loss?

They could replace the items, some of the items, but I mean, how could they compensate me? Because there’s a lot of stuff they can’t replace. Every time I go down to their yard [DPW’s Operations Yard where they’re supposed to store items they take in the sweeps] they don’t ever have my stuff.

How do you think this City should be held accountable for confiscating your things?

I don’t know. I mean if it’s against the law, I imagine they should do jail time. Especially if I’m going through all this.

What would you say to someone who’s housed or who works for the City, so that they could see this incident from your point of view?

I don’t know. It’s like we’re two different people or too different. I really don’t care to explain anything to them. I mean, the way they look at us and like … I don’t have a problem with them, but they seem to have a big problem with us.