This Sunday, the Super Bowl will be held on in Santa Clara, California, about 42 miles south of San Francisco. San Francisco anticipates lots of tourists for the game and related events. The city is concerned about the number of homeless people on the streets during Super Bowl events, and it has been working to find housing and other ways to address the persistent problem of homelessness.
There are and have been mounting protests to the efforts to remove and temporarily relocate the homeless to areas away from the presence and out of sight from the many persons coming to San Francisco for the Super Bowl.
Vicki Gray, a counselor with the San Francisco Night Ministry says that
"This Super Bowl City is a moral disaster area. Homeless people are human beings who deserve to have adequate social services and health services. We want affordable housing now."
Some members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors are trying to reclaim and redeem the moral soul of our City Supervisor Tom Ammiano, said "You're treating the homeless like lepers!" His colleague, Supervisor David Campos, speaking at a crowd of persons protesting the efforts of the City to remove the homeless from the streets for the Super Bowl said, "We cannot turn our backs on families struggling to feed their kids. We actually have to have a government that serves people, not the corporations."
I have had the opportunity to meet other members of the Board of Supervisors. Several of them may also share the sentiments of Supervisors Ammiano and Campos.
One young woman present during a recent demonstration of behalf of the homeless, Nikki Millett, told Reuters that, "What I am against is that homelessness has been a huge problem in this city for a long time and Mayor Lee hasn't done anything about it until [the Super Bowl]."
It is estimated that San Francisco will spend approximately $5 million on Super Bowl festivities.
In some of my recent speeches I have talked about the need for a new definitional paradigm of what constitutes morally and ethically acceptable behavior in our country in 2016. I have repeatedly asked how is it possible and morally and ethically acceptable for people to be sleeping on the sidewalks of the streets in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, Oakland, Atlanta, Memphis, Pittsburg, Boston, Newark, in these United States of America, THE RICHEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD?
It is morally and ethically obscene for this to be occurring in San Francisco and in the other cities mentioned.
Just what kind of country are we anyway?
Millions of dollars nationwide and in San Francisco are being spent on travel, hotels, tickets to the Super Bowl, restaurants and sports related entertainment, but little and grossly insufficient moneys spent to address the needs of the homeless on the sidewalks of our cites.
Do the candidates running for President of the United States care about this issue?
More importantly, do we care or have we become a "nation of onlookers" described by Rabbi Joachim Prinz, one of the speakers at the Aug 28th, 1963 March On Washington For Jobs and Freedom. He spoke immediately before Dr. King was introduced to deliver his "IHAVE A DREAM" speech. I have quoted him in previous blogs.
Again, he said:
"When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not '. the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.
A great people which had created a great civilization had become a nation of silent onlookers. They remained silent in the face of hate, in the face of brutality and in the face of mass murder.
America must not become a nation of onlookers. America must not remain silent."
OUR silence and INACTION in the presence of homelessness and the widespread pubic squalor, amidst the unprecedented wealth in our county, makes us complicit in the immoral and unethical inaction of our local, State and our national governments to the homelessness on the streets of San Francisco and nationwide.