In San Francisco, the anti-homeless rocks of Clinton Park

Faced with an increase in the number of homeless people and drug addicts, residents of one area of ​​the city tried to drive them off their sidewalks. Before going back, despite the powerlessness of the public authorities.

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A homeless man on a street in San Francisco, California, January 6, 2016.
A homeless man on a street in San Francisco, California, January 6, 2016. BECK DIEFENBACH / REUTERS

The residents thought they had found the solution: rocks. Huge pebbles they would place on the sidewalks. For sure, the homeless (SDF) could no longer pitch their tent or slouch in front of the houses for the night.

Clinton Park is a quiet alleyway in San Francisco, conveniently located at the entrance to Mission District, one of the landmarks of the new urbanity where techies blend with Latino families. Not a particularly bourgeois place, let alone anti-homeless. Many of its residents even volunteer. But the street could not take it anymore.

Just a few years ago, "neighbors" lived side by side: sidewalks and Edwardian-style homes. But for two years, the drug had invaded Clinton Park. The dealers found the place convenient. Not far from the Safeway car park, the supermarket where potential customers come to park.

Along the wall, the evenings were more and more agitated: fentanyl, meth, heroin in tents. Shouts, fights and desperation of some homeless while drug addicts took over the camp. "It was not bad to sleep. The neighbors were kind, explained DeDawn Ali, 71, at San Francisco Chronicle. Until the junkies arrive. They do not clean anything. They are hurting us; everyone puts us in the same bag. "

Read also Overdoses of opiates: a national "public health emergency" in the United States

The pebbles of impotence

To call the police ? By 2018, residents had contacted emergency and municipal services more than 300 times, twice as many as in 2017. By the time authorities moved around, drug dealers had generally had time to fly away …

This year, in mid-September, residents of Clinton Park decided to take action. A few dozen of them contributed. They raised 2,000 dollars (1,800 euros) and ordered rocks. Twenty-four stones about 90 cm high and 1.20 m wide. Stumpy blocks, over 100 kg, which they had deposited on the sidewalks. Aware that it was just a last resort: the stones of impotence. "Not 100% dissuasive, notably recognized a resident interviewed by Local Mission, the neighborhood newspaper. But a real one: will you fuck! "

Even in San Francisco, this is not the first time street furniture has been used to try to remove a problem that nobody can fix. In 2017, the municipality itself had placed rocks of the same type under a heat exchanger converted into a campsite. In the vocabulary of associations, tactics have a name: the"Hostile architecture". A category in which the leader of the Homeless Coalition, Jennifer Friedenbach, also places anti-nap benches, shortened to prevent a human from lying there. Or automatic watering of sidewalks.


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