Dayton A. and Max G. were arrested and detained on false and blatantly overblown charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, false imprisonment, battery, second-degree robbery, and assault with force likely to commit great bodily injury. Dayton and Max were protesting peacefully on the street corner, but police were quick to dismiss their words and community members at the scene demanding they be let go. This arrest and the related charges seem like they are aimed at intimidating activists and sending a message that protests against gentrification are not welcome in San Fransisco.
Dayton has been involved in homeless advocacy and anti-gentrification organizing for almost three years in the Bay Area. He works with communities in Bayview-Hunters Point, the Tenderloin, and West Oakland. Dayton also organizes as part of the Coalition Against War and Displacement, a community group of anti-gentrification activists standing in solidarity with international struggles, with the people of Palestine, Yemen, the Philippines, and elsewhere around the world. Dayton is a passionate activist and works tirelessly to further the cause of the oppressed in their struggles for liberation.
Max was born and raised in San Francisco and lives mostly in Seattle, where he has been an active organizer for seven years in anti-gentrification struggles, food justice, housing justice, environmental resistance work, and worker and renter solidarity. Max is a Jewish anti-Zionist who has promoted West Coast and West Bank solidarity through Block the Boat, organizing heavily with Food Not Bombs in both cities, and actively supporting Abolish ICE SF. Max is an incredibly dedicated activist who works to build communities of mutual aid and resistance. He is also a street magician, aspiring board game designer, and resistance songwriter who brings a spark of humor in dark times.
These two long-time anti-gentrification activists were unjustly arrested for peacefully protesting. They were detained at the precinct and transferred to 850 Bryant where they were held overnight, spending almost 17 hours in police custody. They were released only after 2 community members paid $10,000 out of pocket for bail bonds to help them avoid further harassment and another night in jail. SFPD refused to provide a reason for their arrest and detention even after repeated questioning by the activists and witnesses and the police intentionally kept community members in the dark.
Some have speculated that Dayton was arrested because of his nationality, as he was one of two Black protesters at the rally. He is also a well-known anti-gentrification activist and organizer in the homeless community in the Bay Area and some fear that this arrest is a form of targeted political retaliation aimed at suppressing those who dare to struggle against gentrification and homelessness.
Max may have been targeted as well, for his involvement in the recent Abolish ICE SF occupation, as well as last year's week-long occupation, another movement against displacement toward which our so-called "sanctuary city" government has shown a clear policy of repression.
In jail, the sheriffs refused to give Dayton a phone number at which he could reach his fiancé even after police reassured community supporters they would pass this information along. Without access to writing utensils, Dayton and Max were forced to use slices of processed cheese to write down the important phone numbers they managed to acquire. They were not given any meals that did not consist primarily of this plastic-y processed cheese and dairy milk, despite Dayton requesting an alternative for his lactose intolerance, this being of heightened significance in a cell so cramped only 7 or 8 of its 9 occupants could lie down at any time, on hard wooden benches and concrete floor. Dayton did not eat a single bite during this dehumanizing, near 17-hour stay.
Perhaps Dayton and Max were subjected to this sort of treatment because of their involvement in the protest against the Mission Housing Development Corporation. The MHDC is supposed to create and maintain affordable housing and support services for residents of the Mission. However, it has instead given preference to out-of-town businesses which further gentrify the city. Not only that, but the owner of Manny’s, Manny Yekutiel, is a self-avowed Zionist and supporter of settler-colonialism in Palestine. So his business not only represents the displacement of the poor residents of San Fransisco via gentrification but also the displacement of the Palestinian people through settler-colonialism.
Local activists and Mission residents have organized peaceful weekly picket lines outside Manny’s for several months to highlight the conflict between public well-being and private profit in the Mission and San Fransisco. This protest was particularly significant because Jeff Kositsky—the Executive Director of the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing— was speaking at an event at Manny’s. His newly established department is tasked with “fixing” the homelessness crisis. The demonstration highlighted how, in reality, the crisis has only gotten worse during his tenure as the head of the department.
On any given day, over a thousand people wait in line for just a single night in a shelter bed. The amount of people recorded as “homeless” during the Homeless Point-in-Time Count has only gone up, with a current estimate of almost 24,000 people sleeping on the streets every night. Jeff Kositsky and other establishment politicians talk about how many people they get off of the streets and into housing, but in reality, at least half of the “success” stories they talk about involve forcing someone onto a bus out of town. Their logic is to send the homeless out of San Fransisco and make them some other city’s problem. The reality is that 70% of people who are homeless in San Fransisco lived in an apartment or house within the past year, but have since been pushed on the street. The protesters highlighted all this and more at their demonstration and called for real action to address the homelessness crisis, instead of more false solutions and big handouts to businesses like Manny’s.
SFPD’s intimidating show of force to disrupt the protest and arrest housing justice organizers—especially as Jeff Kositsky and Manny’s continued their event—is appalling. Dayton and Max are fortunate to have a group of community members supporting them, but such injustices occur on the daily as police harass folks on the street who often lack the resources or support to find housing or receive shelter. The City of San Francisco, SFPD, and Manny’s are all active agents in the oppression of poor and working-class, LGBTQ+, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous folks.
We are putting out an urgent call to action to provide material support for these activists and their families in order to cover bail bonds and future legal fees. This page has been created with the consent of all parties.
There will be a fundraising party hosted by the Coalition to Close the Concentration Camps Bay Area to support their members Dayton and Max on Sunday in San Francisco. Please refer to the CCCC social media for an update on the time and location of the event:
Thank you, in solidarity and warmth to all others fighting for the common liberation of humanity.
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