Rev. Billy exorcises the demon sit-lie measure

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Rev. Billy addresses the crowd gathered at Mission and 16th streets.
Noah Arroyo

This afternoon in the Mission District, a crowd gathered to bear witness to an exorcism. Reverend Billy had come from New York City to banish the demon from SF. That demon was Prop L, an unholy measure to ban people from communing on San Francisco's sidewalks.
"The only fundamentalism is the absence of fundamentalism!" bellowed the Rev. Bill, a former San Francisco performance artist turned pastor of NYC's Church of Life After Shopping (which was in town to perform tonight (Mon/26) at the Victoria Theater for its Earth-a-llujah, Earth-a-llujah Revival Tour).

Rev. Billy cited constitutional dicta on behalf of civil rights: that we are all, even those without addresses, equal. The good reverend followed with a defense of the unadulterated and often unpredictable daily experience out there on the streets of San Francisco, apt to shape a human in good and thoughtful ways, that would find itself stifled if city regulations seep onto our sidewalks.

Rev. Billy's choir ended his sidewalk sermon with a song that repeated, "Speaking freely sets us free," and whose chorus built to:
"Standing up in public space...
Breaking in to public space...
Shouting out in public space!"

Sup. John Avalos spoke after Rev. Billy, and no sooner had he taken the mic than he accused Police Chief George Gascon of suffering a demon of his own: "hubris." Avalos referred disapprovingly to Gascon's previous attempts to tackle drugs and Critical Mass, the city's monthly bicyclist phenomenon.

In reference to Prop L, Avalos shared that when he came to San Francisco, he knew “three people, had $1,000 in my pocket," but would have been sleeping on the street if not for a friend's couch and kindness. He called San Francisco a "sanctuary city," where people can "find a pathway in life to something better, like I did."

Gabriel Haaland, a Haight neighborhood resident and labor leader, took the mic and proclaimed that "I am, we are, you are, the riff raff! Because the rent is too damn high." He questioned whether some have taken to the streets partially because of San Francisco's high cost of living.

SF resident Selina Gomez Sutton said of Prop L: "a San Francisco without street performers and musicians? Crazy."
But Prop L is also about something other than civil rights, street-side music, and "cleaning up" Haight Street. It's also about tolerance.

Tellingly, just a few feet away from, and entirely throughout, Rev. Billy's sermon, a man sat nearby barking and shouting gruffly at apparently nothing but for what (he must have thought) were good reasons indeed. I was there the entire time, and can say that not one attendee told him to stop. Perhaps they were simply jaded to such conduct -- or perhaps it was because they respected his right to exist.

Comments

complaining about invasive government.

That is so comical.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 25, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

Matlock?
Really?
What the fuck are you? An Andy Griffith fan?
Aunt Bee’s Anus or Barney Fife’s Ball Sack would be more like it.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

I am in awe of the resistance that took place today. I cannot believe that in a city known for it's tolerance would consider such a proposition. I don't know were this idea came from and why, but I can see how it has no foresight of how easily someone could innocently fall prey to this proposition if it became law, Fear of getting sued, or arrested has immobilized people to not take any action to keep their freedoms. I am in Baltimore, Maryland and there has been plenty of prop L type laws that have passed, seemingly without the consent of its citizens. The article gave me courage to fight for the underdog and to speak out for the most powerless in our cities, the homeless. I am in love with the spirit of the article that recognizes that even those of us who have no addresses are equals. The problem will not go away if we banish people out of sight. At the very least, being visible on a sidewalk might afford a homeless person some safety that wouldn't be in an alleyway.The conditions of the homeless are bad enough, and there are already laws on the books to protect properties and pedestrians.
I am proud to say that as the A & R rep for U K Spud Records, our musicians Thee Katatonix have enjoyed San Francisco's hospitality. They have had to camp outside of the city to be able to play their gigs. Adolf Kowalski, the founder of Thee Katatonix, is now running for Governor of Maryland. He is also a champion of the underdog. Prop L is exactly what he stands against.
I hope that Prop L gets trashed next Tuesday.

Sincerely,
Patti Jensen Vucci
A & R Rep.
U K Spud Records

Posted by Guest Patti Jensen Vucci on Oct. 25, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

duped people into thinking that they are; tolerant, open minded and are opposed to taking people's rights away.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 25, 2010 @ 8:22 pm

PERGRESSIVES!

Matlock?
Really?
What the fuck are you? An Andy Griffith fan?
Aunt Bee’s Anus or Barney Fife’s Ball Sack would be more like it.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2010 @ 9:45 pm
Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Oct. 25, 2010 @ 8:08 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2010 @ 8:24 pm

Taking a dump on the sidewalk is already illegal and the (legal behavior of) sitting on the sidewalk has no connection to illegal behaviors that may happen to occur on sidewalks.

I live right off the corner of Haight/Ashbury and I see people communing on the sidewalk on a daily basis. I have never seen people taking a dump on my corner nor any other illegal activities. I have also never taken a dump on the sidewalk before or after sitting outside eating a sandwich/waiting for the bus/enjoying the weather.

Posted by Alex on Oct. 25, 2010 @ 9:32 pm

@ Guest Patti Jensen Vucci.....The roots of this proposition can be traced to big business (real estate, banking industry and the wealthy "elite"), and the ultra right wing think tank Manhattan Institute. If Prop L passes, it will not be funded because residents and merchants in the Haight-Ashbury have already said no to additional cash for street services. Prop L will make it illegal to be homeless and/or a street person in San Francisco. Here's more information from the voter's pamphlet....

Prop L would require police to warn offenders before citing them for violating the law.

Penalties for violating the law would be:

For the first offense, a fine of $50-$100 and/or community service. (How can someone who's homeless or a street person or poor afford that?)

For a repeat offense within 24 hours of a citation, a fine of $300-$500 and/or community service, and/or up to 10 days in jail.

For a repeat offense without 120 days of a conviction, a fine of $400-$500, and/or community service, and/or up to 30 days in jail.

(Question: Aren't our jails already full? How can a homeless person, street person or poor person afford ANY of these dollar amounts?)

Please vote NO on Prop L. Yes on Prop M.

San Francisco's Sit/Lie Propositions Ultra Right Wing Roots
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/10/21/18661939.php

Posted by Guest Bárbara Chelsai on Oct. 25, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

Sit/Lie is useless politicking. It is UNENFORCEABLE; It is DIRECTLY AIMED AT ONE SEGMENT OF SOCIETY; it does NOTHING about anti-social behavior, and as such is merely an act of LEGASLATIVE MEANNESS that CHEAPENS US ALL.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2010 @ 9:47 pm

I can personally relate to Supervisor Avalos's remarks. I arrived in Berkeley in 1969, a gay teen and draft resister from Oklahoma with much less in my pocket and a friend at UC Berkeley. It was my sanctuary city. Yes, I panhandled, smoked pot and took psychedelics and rioted against the Viet Nam war. I was also trying to find a pathway to a better life and I did. I went through that and found my path - working and paying taxes for 35 years and civic involved. I have lived recently in the upper Haight for a year and have spoken to these kids on the street. They seem very much like I was back then. Are there some nasty characters - yes. Not most. Most of these kids could use some support - housing, health, educational/job assistance and rehabilitation. Prop L is just another mean spirited political trick to polarize people and on a bigger scale a continuing attack on civil liberties by forces grimly determined to destroy our freedoms and increase their profits. Perhaps the police should get out of cars and walk the beat. Give these kids a leg up not a foot on their necks. NO ON L, YES ON M.

Posted by Mark on Oct. 25, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

Mark,

Good thoughts but this ain't Berkeley 40 years ago. The general population (even the most conservative, like 'Matlock') is not homophobic anymore and the cops are not going to use this law to attack gays in the Castro.

The law is simply a 'wedge issue' to rally the conservative base and label Progressive supe candidates who oppose it as 'soft on crime/law n' order'. There's at least one and usually several of these kinds of measures on our ballot every time we go to the polls.

Andy Blue has done a great job of defusing this bomb. Being opposed to 'L' will not make you a friend of criminals in the public mind thanks to the very effective campaign he has waged.

Prediction? I'll vote against it but Prop L will pass.

But?

Prop M will get more votes and Blue wins.

Congrats Andy!

And, Go Giants!!

h.

Posted by Guest h. brown on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 9:01 am

if you expect prop L to pass then 'this bomb' has not been defused. other people besides andy blue deserve a lot of credit even if it passes. the bay guardian has been on this nonstop with one article after the other. barbara chelsai and a guest could be described as the online campaign against it. both of them have plastered anti-sit lie comments all over bay guardian articles. andy blue is not around here very often. i'm just saying other people who don't get TV coverage deserve much credit.

you say that prop M will get more votes and andy blue wins. this is NOT about andy blue!!. this is about THE PEOPLE and civil rights. THE PEOPLE will win if prop L loses.

i wish i had as much faith in some cops to not go after gays in the castro as you do.

i have to love the success of the boycott of the stores who had pro sit-lie signs in their windows. most of them have been taken down around here. congratulations to ALL people who followed through on the boycott.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

why not admit preaching the vote will get any further it is love latin style and it has been in congressional session for mucho long why debate it is about sex and the homiest homoest life that will win the ticket to maybe a ricki martin life! or a life where the address of the nation will be about why we dont have bedroom lockdowns!

Posted by davy crockett didnt vote either on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

Hey 'Guest',

I'm not the Guardian staff, so hungry for posts that they don't require a friggin' ID. I'll talk to you if you tell me who you are . Or,are you a 'secret' person?

L will pass and M will get more votes thus negating L.

h. brown sayeth this. Who the hell are you and what do you say?

go Giants!

h.

Posted by Guest h. brown on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 6:34 pm

When will people finally wake up?
We need to give police the tools they need to protect our families and our neighborhoods before these crimes occur!
Allowing these sorts of people to sit hidden in structures in the heart of our family neighborhoods, only to emerge with acts of inexcusable violence like the ones described in this article is bad for neighbors and damaging to small businesses!

For the sake of neighborhood safety,
Vote Yes on the No Sitting Inside Your Own Home Law!

http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/blogs/law-disorder/Car-quarrel-ends-in-f...

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

"a man sat nearby barking and shouting gruffly at apparently nothing but for what (he must have thought) were good reasons indeed. I was there the entire time, and can say that not one attendee told him to stop. Perhaps they were simply jaded to such conduct -- or perhaps it was because they respected his right to exist."

My office is on the corner of 16th and Mission Streets. I know the guy you're talking about. He barks like that, for hours, every day. Every. Day. I've tried to speak to him and find out what his problem is - more barking. The man is clearly sick and a danger to himself. He has been for at least the year that I've been in that particular space (we were across the street for 9 years before that). We've tried calling the police and the fire department to see if he could be given help but are told that the law ties their hands; since he's not hurting anyone, there's nothing that can be done.

Posted by Eric Rodenbeck on Nov. 03, 2010 @ 6:21 am

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