Filed under: Action, Featured, Housing, Pacific, Repression, Solidarity, Uncategorized
Around 50 residents of a self-organized encampment known as Camp Resolution, which has been occupied since late September of this year, are now celebrating after the Sacramento City Council was pushed to pass a unanimous vote against a sweep by police, leading to a pause in a scheduled mass eviction. While the future of the space remains unknown, residents and supporters of the camp are currently rallying in support and gathering food and other supplies.
Camp Resolution, a self-organized + squatted lot in #Sacramento, is standing strong as crowd grows in support + supplies and food are dropped off. Last night, mass pressure pushed city to call off raid. Last year, nearly 200 unhoused people died in Sacramento county. pic.twitter.com/VsqXc8cf7Z
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) November 16, 2022
People began living in the fenced-in lot now known as Camp Resolution last year, when, as the People’s Tribune wrote:
The City of Sacramento spent $617,000 to fence and pave a lot which officials had stated was intended to be part of the city’s comprehensive plan [on addressing homelessness]. They moved approximately 150 unhoused residents in circles around the lot and ultimately, last April, forced them off the lot to fence it off and lock people out, displacing people throughout District 2 and creating perpetual sweeps and removals by code enforcement. The city spent millions of dollars forcing people back onto the streets.
What began as a safe place for people living in RVs and tiny homes, became another skirmish in an increasing war on the houseless, as Democratic run cities turned away from progressive policies towards an all out attack on the poor. As The Intercept noted:
From New York City to Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., a growing list of major cities across the country are escalating a brutal war on their poorest denizens. No policy makes this clearer than the recent and aggressive sweeps of homeless encampments nationwide without any serious options for safe long-term shelter, let alone permanent housing.
In a statement issued this August from Governor Newsom bragging about California’s tough on homelessness stance, it reported:
Caltrans closed 121 encampments…throughout the Central Valley between Butte County in the north and Kern County to the south. This includes 40 encampments in Sacramento County…
As local journalist Robert J Hansen noted, the mass eviction of the original encampment on Colfax street in 2021 was part of a coordinated attack across Sacramento county on the houseless community, through a series of police raids.
These mass evictions, or “sweeps,” coupled with the exploding rent and housing crisis, the pandemic – which also pushed many out of their homes and onto the streets, and lack of access to warming and cooling centers by the city, led to a horrific increase in deaths of those living on the streets of Sacramento county. As the Sacramento Bee reported in early 2022:
A record-breaking 227 homeless people died last year in Sacramento. The number comes from a new analysis of two databases based on Sacramento County coroner records. The Sacramento Bee created one, and the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness developed the second. The Bee in January published a database of profiles homeless people who died last year. The new report from the coalition to end homelessness includes an additional 32 people, who are now added to The Bee’s database. Eight people who were living outdoors froze to death of hypothermia — the highest number in a single year in two decades. Substance use contributed to about half of the deaths, according to the coalition to end homelessness. The second most common cause of death was an injury, such as being hit by vehicles and trains, at 20%. Three homeless men died of respiratory arrest while infected with COVID-19, according to the report.
Fed up with the rising death toll and police repression, in September of 2022, according to the People’s Tribune:
On Friday September 30, the lot at 2225 Colfax St, Sacramento, CA was officially occupied by unhoused individuals. On October 1st, a group of resident organizers from the Wood Street encampment in Oakland, CA and on-the-ground advocates held a bicycle ride from Oakland to Sacramento to raise funds for the Wood Street community, demand an end to the evictions of Wood Street residents and other unhoused Oaklanders, and call on state officials to support the civil and human rights of unhoused people with access to permanent housing, water, electricity, trash removal, and other basic resources that allow them to live with dignity, safety and stability.
Over the next month and a half, the squatted community in North Sacramento grew, as banners sprung up on the gates of the space, poetry nights and other events were organized, communal meals were shared, and birthdays were celebrated. On November 11th, Veteran’s Day, however, the city again threatened to evict Camp Resolution, only to move the date back five days, being that so many residents are veterans.
On November 15th, over 60 Camp Resolution residents and supporters packed the Sacramento City Council meeting, demanding a halt to the scheduled eviction, and pushed the City Council to vote against it, although the ultimate decision still lies in the hands of the city manager. The next morning, camp supporters mobilized in the face of a potential police raid, however an eviction never materialized. Throughout the day, people dropped off supplies, made food, and collectively held the space.
While the future of this squatted encampment remains unclear, by taking direct action, camp residents have already built a growing coalition while also defending a vibrant community from potential eviction. Capitalism has created a massive housing crisis that would allow vacant homes to rot in the hands of landlords and speculators, as houseless people literally die in the streets. The solution lies not in placing our faith in the politicians who seek to manage this disaster and smooth over class antagonisms, but instead acting collectively to further our own class interests: expropriating the means of existence out of the hands of the rich and into our own.