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(en) US, Modesto, Media on the DAAA Collective - Reclaim the Parks action Activists march through streets for street people

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 24 Aug 2004 09:12:31 +0200 (CEST)


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A group of activists slowed downtown Modesto traffic Saturday afternoon as
they marched for homeless people they say are being forced out of city parks.
Kim Skaggs, 39, spotted the group as she gathered her
belongings behind a downtown building. Skaggs has been living
on the streets of Modesto since she was 20.
As they walked by, Skaggs gave the activists her thumbs-up
approval, wishing she had enough strength to join them.
"I'm glad they're out there standing up for our rights," Skaggs
said, holding a light-blue plastic garbage bag over her shoulder
filled with her belongings. "We're like nobodies out here."

The group of 20 protesters from the Direct Action
Anti-Authoritarians Collective of Modesto walked at around 3:15
p.m. from Tower Park to Graceada Park.

They chanted, carrying spray-painted signs as they walked in the
middle of J and K streets.

The group works to try to feed and provide clothes for homeless
people, group spokesman Doug Gilbert said.

Gilbert, 20, of Modesto, said Tower Park on 17th Street had been
a safe haven for homeless people, but police have been more
active there recently.

"They're trying to drive the homeless out of the park," Gilbert
said. "Homelessness is not a crime."

He said the United Samaritans Foundation truck still comes to
the park to provide free meals. But that might end if the
homeless people who gather there continue to be seen as
criminals, he said.

"A human being is a human being, no matter how much money
they make," said Nicholas DeGraff, a 24-year-old Fresno activist.
"These are social issues, and they're not going to be solved by
force."

DeGraff spent the day at Tower Park teaching homeless people
about basic civil rights in hopes of giving them
self-empowerment.

"They need to assert their rights at the first initial contact with
police," DeGraff said. "They have a feeling of being powerless in
the system."

Workshop comes with free meal

Along with DeGraff's workshop, the activists provided free meals
to any homeless person who attended the event.

The group made it to Graceada Park without incident, despite
the traffic slowdown.

The biggest backup was about five cars, the drivers of whom all
waited patiently for the marchers to pass. Modesto police didn't
intervene throughout the 30-minute march.


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