Response to Ryan Lillis
Oct 5, 2017
Sacramento DSA Member Hannah Williams Responds to Sacramento Bee City Beat Piece “Community watch or ‘bourgeois snitches?’ Facebook group pushes city to clear homeless” Ryan Lillis, September 29, 2017
Last week, I became aware of an informal organization known as Land Park Society, whose apparent mission has been to condemn and displace Sacramento’s unhoused community, all under the guise of “cleaning up” their neighborhood. Due to the extreme offensiveness of their language and treatment of houseless folks, I decided to respond by calling out the organizers on Twitter and Facebook. This simple act caught the attention of our local newspapers and a couple days later I was interviewed by Ryan Lillis at the Sacramento Bee about the Facebook group’s activities and my critiques. In the aftermath of Lillis’ article*, I have decided to elaborate more about my feelings on the matter:
In a Capitalist society, money is power. Collectively, Land Park Society have a lot of money. The folks who live in Land Park have more power and influence in Sacramento than our poor and unhoused community members could ever hope for. The manner in which members of this private Facebook group use their power to displace houseless folks through policing, private security, and business associations, is inhumane and highly immoral. This group, which purports themselves as “activists” upset about “crime, trash, and human feces,” clearly does not concern themselves with the foundational circumstances that perpetuate the human suffering that their actions exacerbate.
Witnessing the words and images that members share amongst one another on their group’s page, about our houseless community, can only be understood as highly disturbing. Houseless folks, who are simply minding their own business while advocating for their own survival, are under constant shaming and threat by Land Park Society. If the vigilantes of this informal organization really cared about the crisis of houselessness in Sacramento—nor just their precious Land Park neighborhood and their inflated property values—they would lay their frustrations at the feet of our city council, where it belongs. I empathize with the desire for clean and peaceful communities, but not at the expense of other human beings. I empathize with the struggle of our houseless neighbors, who have continually been stripped of public resources and experience daily humiliation and degradation, all because Mayor Darrell Steinberg and the rest of the city council won’t stand up for what is right and just.
Land Park Society has no interest in solutions, only in sweeping the problem under the rug. They are playing whack-a-mole with the unhoused in Sacramento, simply because they do not want their Land Park aesthetic disrupted. This aesthetic being, clear economic segregation. Land Park Society believes homelessness is a “poor people problem” and want nothing to do with it because they either don’t understand what systematic problems are, and their role in them, or they just don’t care. There is an apparent attitude towards our houseless neighbors that they do not advocate and work hard enough to escape the trap of poverty, which completely disregards their lived experiences and the lack of available resources and assistance. Land Park Society members should adjust their tune. They should listen to, and attempt to better understand, the issues facing Sacramento’s unhoused community. I, along with the community of other houseless advocates, invite you all to join us in demanding that our “world class city” provide resources to those in need. We must advocate for the betterment of all individuals, not just the wealthy and affluent residents of Land Park.
* With regard to my being described as a “free speech activist” in this article: I would like to say that, while I have never described myself as such, I am proud to reclaim this narrative back from the alt-right, who claims that their free speech rights are under threat. In fact, historically and presently it is leftists who have faced censorship and state oppression as a result of anti-establishment, anti-capitalist, and anti-white supremacist speech.