PNN-TV:WeSearch-Berkeley Anti-Poor People Laws Tested
Subject: Anti-Poor People Criminalization in Berkeley
Date: July 6, 2015
Location: Berkeley, California
WeSearchers: RYME Youth Skolaz: Heidy, 15 yrs old Ana, 15 yrs old, Tiburcio 11yrs old
Poverty Skolaz, Muteado Silencio, "Tiny" & Tony Robles
What is WeSearch: Wesearch is poor people lead research and pro-active media deconstructing the lies told about criminalized communities. We say wesearch instead of researching because we, the people, are searching for answers while research means going to an institutional source or point of view.
The problem being WeSearched was anti-poor people criminalization and profiling by Po'Lice and business owners in light of recent attacks on houseless residents of Berkely.
On June 30th yet another layer of poor laws were proposed to the Berkeley City Council which would make it illegal for houseless people to use technology, including phones and computers on the streets or put their backpack on the sidewalk or street.
So our WeSearch team from POOR Magazine conducted an experiment and a survey on Monday July 7, 2015 in Berkeley on Shattuck Avenue. We would walk on the sidewalk and put a backpack down while pretending to be on a cellular device. We wanted to see if any of the establishments there would call the police on us or if the police would just “mysteriously” show up.While we were there for approximately 45 minutes using our phone and leaving our backpack on the ground no police bothered us or asked us to leave. The houseless people sitting on the street next to us were asked to leave by police within that same 45 minutes.
After that, we conducted a survey with four random people, as they passed by, each from different races, age, class, and gender. When asked if any of them have ever been arrested for putting their backpack down on the street or using their digital devices all of them said no except the one houseless person of the four/(see below to watch the interviews)
He goes by the name of Moon and he said, “What's even more concerning to me is the fact that there's so many people that have a valid voice that see it occurring everyday and they do nothing...it's very easy to brush aside homeless people. There's a large attempt nationwide to make homeless people look bad.”
As we left that day we returned back to homefulness with the findings that if you are a person of color or not, who's dressed nice, you wouldn't be arrested for putting your backpack down or using any electronic device.