Safe Ground Sacramento
Rallies March for Camp

By Paula Lomazzi


SACRAMENTO, CA: On July 1st Safe Ground Sacramento held a Rally, March and Campout. It began Wednesday morning at Loaves & Fishes’ Delaney Center parking lot with breakfast and some great songs by Glenn Bailey.
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Glenn Bailey
Various news reporters milled around the growing crowd of supporters looking for interviews. At 10 am there was a short rally with John Kraintz of the Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee welcoming everyone and serving as MC.

Greg Bunker of Francis House spoke on how Sacramento is one community, and it needs to put aside the us-vs-them attitude between social groups.

Long time civil rights attorney Mark Merin spoke on the values of a society that seems to give to those who have much, and take from those who have little, making it necessary for good people to stand up for what is right.

James Little briefly spoke about a recent incident he experienced because he was homeless. Sharon Hendrix spoke about the need for our solidarity.

Jacoby of Pappa Roach and S r. Libby Fernandez of Loaves & Fishes confirmed their support and encouraged the participants.

The speeches ended with Garren Bratcher of Loaves & Fishes explaining the logistics of the march ahead.

Then around 350 homeless, formerly homeless and never been homeless people, five dogs and a pony marched or trotted 1.2 miles from the Loaves & Fishes staging area to a piece of City property off Richards Boulevard to declare it “Safe Ground”.
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Police and safety monitors helped to direct traffic along the way. Foodlink’s flatbed truck transported a U-dome World Shelter for display.

The flatbed trailer then became the stage for another rally on the hot vacant lot that was the march’s destination, with Tracie Rice-Bailey as MC.

A team set up a bunch of tents while speakers from San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno, and Merced offered their solidarity with Sacramentans.

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Bill Camp from the AFL-CIO offered his endorsement and support. Rev. Brian Baker, the Dean of Trinity Cathedral, lead the rally goers in prayer. Then there was an open mic session where rally participants were able to share their words of encouragement and musical entertainment.

The lot was hot since there were no trees for shade. Also, it happened to be located next door to the police station. So, around 1 PM, it was time to move on down the road; actually through a hole in the fence, down the road and around the corner by the water treatment plant, where an inviting parklike setting became the second Safe Ground declared that day.

The police said campers would receive amnesty for 24 hours at that spot and the sprinklers were to be turned off for the night.

The weather turned drastically cool and pleasant. The neighboring Highway 5 traffic rushed by like a sea breeze and sounded like ocean waves, Sr. Libby mentioned.

Over 60 Campers set up around 25 tents and some cots. Many who were out for the first time from the overflow shelter were given sleeping bags. The portable toilet just happened to be placed directly under a street light, so evening trips without a flashlight were accident free.

Everyone got a $5 McDonald gift certificate, which wasn’t needed for dinner because Mo Mohanna brought everyone some perfectly prepared pizza and chicken wings.

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Everything was pleasant and people were able to rest without fear of harassment, and were able to unwind from the weeks of work planning for the event, except for a brief encounter with Wackenhut security.

Everything was just about perfect, until the next morning when reality set in and everyone had to tear down their tents and cots, pack up their gear and reenter the real world of Sacramento, where homeless people are not allowed to legally live outdoors, and all emergency shelters are full, especially since July 1st marked the closing of the Overflow shelter at Cal-Expo.

The Safe Ground Sacramento Campaign will continue though, and homeless campers will declare yet another piece of land as Safe Ground for yet another night. This time with a growing number of supporters, and with the plight of the homeless people of Sacramento being less ignored - less swept under the rug, so to speak.

Current organizational sponsors are: Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee, Loaves & Fishes, Francis House, Mark Merin Law Offices, Uptown Studios and Phil Giarrizzo Campaign Consulting. Visit Safe Ground Sacramento’s new website that Uptown Studios just created at:
www.safegroundsac.org