Day laborers protest U-haul and police crackdown


Every day, on my bike ride to work, I see the day laborers lined up along Alameda Street across from the U-haul office, hoping to get work. It’s a great little community, full of friendly people (mostly Latino men, but sometimes a couple young African-Americans as well), and they wave, smile, and try to get me to jingle my bell or honk my horn at them as I pass, which I always oblige.

But a couple months ago, the scene changed. Police officers now show up more often to hassle the day laborers, often demanding they clear the street. So they linger on adjacent streets, still trying to make themselves available for work, but clearly intimidated and wary of getting busted.

Well today, the workers pushed back, with the help of La Raza Centro Legal’s Day Laborer Program and nearly 100 supporters, who came to chant and protest a new U-Haul manager who they say constantly harasses them and calls the police three times a day. That manager, who was chatting with two cops at the scene, refused to identify himself or speak with me, referring me to their corporate flak (who hasn’t returned my call).

Anecdotally, we’ve heard that day laborers around the city have been rousted by police far more often in recent months, just one more of the SFPD crackdowns under new Police Chief George Gascon, which include raids on pot growers in the Sunset, mass arrests in the Tenderloin, regular raids of underground parties in SoMa, and lots more citations for drinking in Dolores Park and other parks.