Public Eviction

by Jairo Banuelos

Published Winter 2016

“Public Eviction” depicts a woman I saw getting arrested in San Francisco. I went on a day trip, with a few of my classmates to visit an art museum, and as I was walking in the city, I noticed a woman, who was yelling at an officer, on a sidewalk, by a Forever 21. I could not hear what they were arguing about, so I got closer. I heard the woman yelling at the officer, “Why are you arresting me?!? Fuck you!” It was hard to hear what the officer said in response, but I believe he said, “Because you have your shit everywhere.” I didn’t know what he meant by that. I looked around the scene and I could see all of her belongings in large bags and carts by a Forever 21 (not captured in the drawing). I wondered if Forever 21 called the police because they didn’t want her outside their store or if she was she randomly stopped.

I had previously heard from a professor there were now laws and policies that prevented homeless people from living in public areas in a city. While she was getting arrested, I took my phone out and decided to take some photos. One moment, the officer stood  there and looked at me, smiling as I took photos. I went back home to research and find out that San Francisco did, in fact, have an anti-homeless law known as the “Sit/Lie Ban” that makes it illegal to sit or lie down on the city’s sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. The purpose of the law is to limit panhandling and to reduce San  Francisco’s homeless population by discouraging homeless people from living there.