Tuesday evening we served our typical meal at the Salvation Army at 7th and F in downtown San Diego. Four blocks away, the MLB All-Star game preceded us and still continued as we left. I was interested to hear how things had gone. If one ever geographically wanted to see economic inequality close together in the United States — what a difference four blocks can make — it was the time.
We had a smaller turnout for the beginning of the month at our gathering, both smaller than the end of the month and smaller than that gathering broadcast worldwide four blocks away. Many of our friends have income from either day labor or SSI — but it does little help with the cost of housing in San Diego. We were around 75% capacity. It was a fun evening. It surprised me to see friends on the sidewalks by the post-office — and even enjoying the over hang at the old library. For the first time in a long time, I went to the streets afterwards and found many friends that I hadn’t seen for awhile. it surprised me that things seemed so undisturbed by the game — and even sedate.
Of course, I could hear the surveillance helicopter circling overhead. I laughingly told friends that I suspected the paparazzi tracking me for photo ops. Two and a half blocks down 8th street, I could see barricades up with vans and emergency lights flashing. Authorities obviously had layers of security against violence that might seek a worldwide audience. I didn’t approach the barricade to see the nature of the armaments there. I didn’t think those assigned there would appreciate series of questions. As I drove home, I saw two helicopters just north of my house also circling a wider perimeter. They didn’t advertise their presence, but nothing took place at the All-Star game outside the sight of the national security state — although no one at the game or those watching it on television would have been aware of it once they entered the ballpark. Membership has its privileges.
I gave God thanks that life went on normally with friends — even the “hot dog people” showed up to distribute their hot dogs and water on the street. I hadn’t talked with them for awhile. It was good.
I climbed in the car to drive home. I turned left on G Street to get to the 94 to the I-15 and on home. I always check on G Street to see how all those who live there are doing. As I approached the 94, I saw that the usual tents, canvases, shopping carts, sleeping bags, and lean-tos no longer existed there! “Street cleaning” had obviously occurred. Just as the national security state masked its presence to those at the game, so did the city mask the presence of its residents that live on the streets in that neighborhood. Out of sight, out of mind. The neighborhood around the Salvation Army did not represent an “exit path” for those at the game; the authorities left them alone. However, those who could “ruin” those who had gone to the game by their lack of housing had experienced coercive relocation.
I find it fascinating that the authorities see the need to protect those at the game personally and through television from the reality of blow-back threats of violence — and after the murders in France tonight, one discovers that such threats do exist. We should mourn that we live in such a world. I find it even more fascinating that the authorities felt the necessity to protect those at the game from the visible presence of those who live in the streets. I wonder, “Who do they threaten?”
Life on the streets continues hard in San Diego. The person arrested for setting four people on fire was released last week due to insufficient evidence and an alibi — after using the media to make sure that the public thought the murderer had been caught. Today the paper recorded ongoing violence against friends on the streets –this time by a bicyclist who hit a man on the head with a hammer as he road by him — one of several “hammer attacks” reported in the last few weeks. Drug violence continues apace as well.
I find it interesting and important to know that even as worldwide eyes remained on the activities at Petco Park, the eyes of the church, in the form of mac-and-cheese with sausage in it, fruit, veggies, salad, and home baked chocolate chip cookies at the Salvation Army and in hot dogs and water at 9th and Broadway, were on Christ in the poor. And Christ was there, invisible to the national security state, but very visible to the eyes of faith.