Militant Journalism

Solidarity in El Cajon defies anti-homeless laws

Since early November, the City of El Cajon, Calif., has upheld an immoral set of “emergency” laws aimed at increasing pressure on the city’s homeless. These laws specifically criminalize panhandling, sleeping on the sidewalk, and the sharing of food in public spaces. Many progressive and revolutionary people in El Cajon have pledged to defy these laws.

On Dec. 22, organizers and allies gathered in El Cajon in solidarity with our houseless neighbors. Food Not Bombs and other organizations helped prepare hot food, sorted donated clothing and handled logistics. The feeding on Dec. 22 marked the third time Liberation News has covered these acts of civil disobedience since the ordinances were callously enacted.

As volunteers arranged trays of lasagna, soups, salads and whole turkeys, the El Cajon Police Department arrived. Grassroots organizers proceeded to copwatch as several ECPD cruisers rolled into the park and immediately sought to intimidate the people.

The police, vastly outnumbered by those gathered, handed out warnings to volunteers in the park. They announced that those gathered were breaking the law and that the next time they gathered they would be subject to police intervention.

These comments were denounced, with several proudly proclaiming that they would not stop feeding their neighbors, even after the ECPD’s monstrous threats. Faced with this resistance the ECPD stood idly by as volunteers began feeding the people who routinely make Wells Park their home. After about 15 minutes of unsuccessfully seeking to intimidate the people, the ECPD packed up and left with their yellow warnings in tow.

The event was an overwhelming success with dozens of people receiving hot meals, hygiene products and warm clothing. Local organizers spent the day hanging out with their neighbors, serving food and sharing stories with people often overlooked by society at large. Young families, children and elders gave the event a festive atmosphere as the sounds of laughing children mingled with revolutionary conversation. After everyone had eaten, volunteers cleaned up any trash left in the park and packed up.

Public feedings such as this will continue to take place in El Cajon, and organizers have told Liberation News that they will not be dissuaded by threats or by state violence. Organizers have pledged to return in full force Jan. 27, 2018, regardless of what the city threatens. Liberation News will be there to document this resistance to the cruelty of capitalism as it continues to unfold.

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