Frets Mean Death

Tiny - Posted on 03 December 2015

There have been at least two "frets" in San Francisco in the past few months. A fret is where police go out in the poor neighborhoods – SOMA, the Tenderloin – and stop anyone who looks poor and/or houseless. 

The police run peoples’ names in their system and if anyone has an outstanding warrant, like for a failure to appear in the court the previous time this happened, they get booked at the jail.  This creates a huge influx of people into the jail and requires increased staffing, for which jail staff are compensated generously.  (People don’t want to work in County Jail 1, which is the intake jail, because it’s hectic and chaotic). 

The frets happen when someone important is coming to town or an event is happening and the city is trying to appear “cleaner” or like it actually doesn’t have a housing crisis created by greed.  Frets probably happen at other times too. 

I know that I don’t understand what this experience is like for people.  I have never been forcibly removed from my home or my business, plucked away from my family and friends and belongings.  I have never been detained against my will. 

And what a money-making cycle for those who profit from it.  The police officers who meet their quotas, people who work at San Francisco County Jail who get extra days off for working these particularly busy shifts, all the other billing and compensation, the court fees, and on and on.  We don’t talk about the costs of the lives disrupted, the possessions forever lost, the business transactions missed, the trauma of experiencing police power. 

A social worker told me, trying to justify the routine violent dis-locating of poor people “at least they get three hots and a cot and the chance to be de-liced.”  “Yeah, some chance,” I thought. 



photo by Michael Stoll/ SF Public Press 


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