sgbox.JPGThe Safe Ground Homeless March and Rally became the first and opening action of the Safe Ground Campaign. On December 23, 2009 at 1 PM, the march wound its way from Loaves & Fishes through Sacramento's Central City passed City Hall, ending at Cesar Chavez Park. After marching around the park, anywhere from 200 to 300 people that are homeless and their supporters ended the march with a rally at the park.
Homeless people with the Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee's Homeless Leadership Project organized this march to education the community and elected officials that homeless people have no where else to go but to sleep outside and that they need places to stay that are legal and safe - they need some safe ground. At the rally John Kraintz, a homeless organizer, spoke of his friends that have died and how a safe, legal place for them to stay may have prevented their deaths. Hoppy Bojangles, an organizer, spoke of the need for portable toilets and garbage service as a bare minimum need of the homeless community, a need
photos - Michael/IndyBay
very few of them have access to. Mark Merin, lead attorney for the current homeless civil rights lawsuit in Sacramento, spoke of how homeless people are constantly made to move and are unable to rely on their survival gear because it is so often thrown away by law enforcement sweeps. Bob Erlinbusch, President of the National Coalition for the Homeless, talked about the National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day. There were also some speakers from the many co-sponsors of the event, on how homeless civil rights corresponds to their missions.

After the rally speeches, Reverend Linda Kelly lead a ceremony remembering the homeless people of Sacramento that have died this past year. Several people read the names of 27 homeless people that have died in Sacramento in 2008. This was part of the National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day actions that were taking place all over the nation that same week.
photos Michael/IndyBay

The rally ended with the whole group singing fractured Christmas carols and an open-mic session. As the rally, ended participants weren't through or tired, so they marched and chanted around the park one more time before dispersing out into the world at large.
The times are definitely changing and many more of Sacramento's residents and organizations are realizing the need for campgrounds for homeless people, at least until there is enough housing and shelter for everyone. Just recently the Sacramento Bee endorsed legal camping for homeless people. The many co-sponsors of this event were SHOC's Homeless Leadership Project, Loaves & Fishes, Francis House, National Coalition for the Homeless, CHAM of San Jose, Chicano Consortium, Sacramento Area Peace Action, Sacramento Housing Alliance, Relocalize Sacramento!, and Food Not Bombs. Other groups from the community participated, bringing their banners to the march and rally. Moore Ministries provided food and hygiene items. Food Not Bombs served coffee and tea. Their enthusiastic support and participation shows that much more of our community are starting to come together on this issue and are offering their support.
This event was the first and opening action for the Safe Ground Campaign that will continue until Safe Ground is found for all people that do not have housing. After everyone has at least Safe Ground, the campaign will continue on for Safe Housing.

photos by Lee