In an effort to conceal its homelessness epidemic during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit that takes place from Nov. 11 to 17, the city of San Fransico cleared out its homeless encampments and established "night ambassadors" to keep them from coming back. President Joe Biden is also expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the summit.
According to the Daily Mail, the summit will be be San Fransisco's largest gathering of global leaders since 1945 and is expected to bring in over 20,000 people, and $50 million in revenue.
On Wednesday, workers cleared out popular homeless hotspots, Jessie Alley, where those who stayed there watched crews throw their belongings into garbage trucks and hose down the streets.
One homeless man told the outlet that police requested that they stay away from the area while the conference was taking place. "The police just told me that there's a major conference, that the president is coming, and asked if we could stay away for a week," he said. "They took everything, my tent, my cell phone... I've got to start all over. I could have cursed them out, but it ain't do me no good," he said about being forced out.
Deputy director of communications and legislative affairs for the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing Emily Cohen told KQED, "When our community hosts events, like APEC, we want to put our best foot forward." She added, "Dedicated outreach interventions will be focused on the conference vicinity, and offering safe places for people experiencing homelessness will be a priority.”
The city offered to take many of the homeless people to shelters in the area but many refused. One man told the Daily Mail, "We've got nowhere to go and they're trying to push us to areas we don't want to go." He added, "We've got nowhere to go and they're trying to push us to areas we don't want to go."
Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI) told Fox News that the clean-up efforts show that politicians like California Governor Gavin Newsome "know San Francisco is an embarrassment and they don’t care about their residents, they only care about impressing Xi Jinping.”
"Well, let’s start with Newsom. That’s too ridiculous to let go by uncommented. But — for years, San Francisco residents have had to put up with rampant homelessness, open-air drug use, assaults, and feces-lined streets, all in the name of some twisted progressive notion of equity," he said. "But, suddenly, when a genocidal Communist dictator comes to town, the ideas of equity suddenly vanish and the streets get cleaned up. That’s very weird. What kind of message does that send? It means California politicians like Gavin Newsom know San Francisco is an embarrassment and they don’t care about their residents, they only care about impressing Xi Jinping. If it weren’t so sad, it would actually be funny.”
Of note, Gavin Newsome visited China last week as part of a delegation focused on working on climate action and partnership between them and the US.
San Fransico residents echoed the sentiments that the city is capable of cleaning up the homelessness but chooses not to. SoMa resident and community activist Ricci Lee Wynne told The New York Post, "They’ve cleared out the tents that were near the Moscone Center on Howard Street, which tells me the city had the capability to do this all along."
"Instead they just do the bare minimum," she added. "Once APEC is gone, police presence will start to simmer down again, the tents will return. And it will slowly flare up again. What we need is a permanent solution.”
"They are just essentially herding the problem around but offering no long-term solutions," small business owner Adam Mesnick said. "I’m just outside what they consider the ‘containment zone’ for APEC, so the problem is getting pushed into my area, which is already pretty saturated with drug activity."
In reference to city leaders, Mesncik told the Post, “They are very good at creating an illusion and they are very good at performance art." He added, “It’s a Band-Aid and indicative of a poor administration. And you know, really at this point, the frustration couldn’t be any louder."
The city also placed metal barriers in the SoMa district, around the summit area, and the Chinese government brought in 100 private security guards to be posted around the St. Regis Hotel where many of the attendees will be staying.
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