Homeless Rally At State Capitol

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

About a hundred homeless people rallied outside the state capitol today (Tuesday, 4.21).  They’re upset because the city of Sacramento has disbanded a so-called “tent city” and moved many of its residents to a shelter at the state fairgrounds.

Capital Public Radio's Steve Shadley reports…

The crowd chants “Safe Ground” as a few homeless people spread out sleeping bags on the sidewalk at the capitol entrance.   Some protesters say they’ll camp out here until they get arrested.  They want the city to allow them to set up camp elsewhere.  Karen Hirsch has been living on the streets of Sacramento for seven years.  The city recently tried to relocate her and dozens of others to a shelter at CalExpo.  But she doesn’t want to stay there because she says it’s overcrowded and unsafe.  She’s tried to camp out in other parts of the city but says Sacramento police keep telling her to move on… 
“They will incarcerate anybody found in a tent…confiscate your tent and all your worldly belongings.  We’re here for this meeting called safe ground…rallying for tents and so we can do what we can so choose.  I would prefer a house…but that’s not going to happen either…”
Lieutenant Allan Stallman is with the California Highway Patrol which guards the capitol.  He watches the homeless people setting up their camp and says while they have a permit to rally…they can’t stay here over night… 

“What I’m seeing now is a violation of 1861 B which is an obstruction of state business….the usual business of the state…”
Stallman says as long as the demonstration is peaceful they don’t plan to arrest any of the protesters. 
Meantime, the homeless say they plan to ask Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to allow them to put up another campsite somewhere in the city.