The Super Bowl is over. That’s a relief for the losers of the Super Bowl. I’m not talking about Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers or the commercials that were duds. The real losers of the Super Bowl were the estimated 7,000 homeless people of San Francisco who were not welcome to join in the party.
When San Francisco fenced off an area along the Embarcadero to construct “Super Bowl City Presented by Verizon,” dozens of homeless people were removed and their belongings confiscated. Mayor Ed Lee had announced, “They’re going to have to go,” referring to the homeless. And police in riot gear ensured that the homeless went. Where? Under expressway ramps? Nope…highly visible. In parks? Nope…too exposed. Into shelters? Nope…not enough beds. Wherever people moved, they were told to move on. After all, tourists were in town. Welcome to the party!
“Street Sweeping” isn’t a new thing and it doesn’t just happen in San Francisco. Those who are without homes are regularly told to leave. Rather than actually address the causes of homelessness and provide the services people need, many cities have chosen to criminalize the condition. San Francisco has 23 vagrancy codes—almost three times more than average. Even “standing or resting in public” is illegal.
Tom Ammiano, a former Democratic assemblyman and San Francisco supervisor, observed in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, “They say that San Francisco is a city that has heart. I am feeling that it’s missing lately. And I am feeling an even bigger absence: Where is our soul?”
Obviously, it was at the Super Bowl.