SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Homeless advocates gathered in large numbers late Wednesday afternoon to protest Super Bowl City and recent efforts by San Francisco city officials to clear the downtown area of homeless individuals for the big event.
The Coalition on Homelessness teamed with writer, activist and former San Francisco mayoral candidate Stuart Schuffman and other groups to organize the protest that began at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday near the Ferry Building.
By 5 p.m., a large group of protesters was facing off with dozens of San Francisco police in riot gear. Protesters could be seen holding up tents with signs addressing the homeless problem painted on them after being told by police that could not put the tents on the ground because that would violate the city’s camping ordinance.
According to the Facebook event for the Super Bowl Protest: Tackle Homelessness, which had over 1,700 RSVPs Tuesday afternoon, the point of the demonstration is to demand that the city care for its homeless population.
Protesters carried signs saying “house keys not homelessness,” and “Hey Mayor Lee, no penalty for poverty.”
The group was chanting “homeless people under attack, what will we do, rise up fight back.”
More specifically, protesters are demanding that the city allow for “publicly-owned assets, such as the empty Pier 29 or 80, or the land under the Freeway at 101/Cesar Chavez,” be home to “monitored programs that support secure sleep, hygienic toileting, and access to transition/healing services” for the homeless.
They had grown to more than 100 demonstrators as of 5:30 p.m., with police lining The Embarcadero to keep protesters out of the street and away from Super Bowl City, while helicopters circled overhead.
The event organizers further state, “We want an end to the criminalization of poverty and the continued violations of poor people’s civil and human rights,” as well as the re-direction of city funds toward housing and support services.
On Wednesday, the city was supposed to open a large new homeless shelter at Pier 80, but that opening was delayed.
KPIX 5 has learned the shelter will open Thursday or Friday. Crews are still busy putting everything together.
The shelter has room for 150 people, though many homeless people interviewed by KPIX 5 have said they aren’t interested in staying in the new space.
The city plans to keep the facility open through the end of March.
On February 6, at 1 p.m., the Saturday before the big game, a march in the form of a “moving block party” from Civic Center to Super Bowl City is being organized by the group, SOS San Francisco.