Kill the Poor

Kill the Poor
On June 14, Fresno’s Homeless Assistance Response Team (HART) moved unhoused residents from a field near Barstow Avenue and Highway 41 to the sidewalk. On June 15, HART returned to throw away all their possessions. Photo by Bob McCloskey

The well-known punk rock band, the Dead Kennedys, released a song in 1980 about the neutron bomb called “Kill the Poor.” Here’s some of the lyrics.

Now that we have the neutron bomb

It’s nice and quick and clean and gets things done

The sun beams down on a brand new day

No more welfare tax to pay

Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light

Jobless millions whisked away

All systems go to kill the poor tonight, gonna kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor tonight

Fresno’s new anti-camping, anti-sitting, anti-standing and anti–lying down ordinance, banning unhoused residents from all places, written by Fresno City Council Members Miguel Arias and Garry Bredefeld, will do just that. It will kill the poor (see “Fresno Policy Kills” in the June issue of the Community Alliance).

Why is a liberal Democrat, Arias, joining forces with an extremist Republican to implement a radically harsh ordinance? They will kill the poor.

On June 14, Fresno’s Homeless Assistance Response Team (HART) moved unhoused residents from a field near Barstow Avenue and Highway 41 to the sidewalk. On June 15, HART returned to throw away all their possessions. Photo by Bob McCloskey

The ordinance specifically bars unhoused residents from being near both shelters and cooling/warming centers. It bans people from being near intake facilities, where unhoused people must go to seek services and housing.

The new ordinance bans unhoused residents from nearly all places in Fresno. It prohibits sitting, standing, lying down, sleeping and having any possessions within 500 feet of schools, childcare facilities, parks, libraries, warming and cooling centers, shelters, even navigation centers (like the Poverello House), freeway ramps, tunnels, under bridges, pedestrian bridges, active railways, alleys, sidewalks and many other places. 

In the triple-digit heat on the streets of Fresno, unhoused residents will die from heatstroke because areas of shade, such as freeway underpasses, will be unavailable because of the ordinance. Several unhoused men died from heatstroke last summer.

There is an added section that allows for people to be prohibited wherever the Council determines to put signs prohibiting them, and the city manager can execute how this ordinance is implemented.

It’s broad in how it could be used, and it limits acceptable belongings to a backpack or less. It allows for belongings to be taken without notice. Fresno’s Homeless Assistance Response Team (HART) already does this every day, as many have documented.

Homeless street sweeps are frequent operations in many U.S. cities in which government agencies move unhoused people living in public outdoor areas. Little research exists on the health impact of street sweep operations.

What research has been done shows that street sweeps might negatively impact health through two outcomes. The first outcome is material loss, including belongings and medical items. The second outcome is instability, including geographic displacement, community fragmentation and the lost opportunity to follow up with health and service providers.

These outcomes could contribute to less effective management of chronic health conditions, infectious diseases and substance-use disorders and might increase physical injuries and worsen mental health. Providers also reported that sweeps could negatively impact the healthcare system by promoting increased usage of emergency departments and inpatient hospital care.

Unfortunately, this ordinance will take effect on July 7. The sole dissenting vote was Council Member Annalisa Perea. This vote begs the question: Are the other six Council members and the mayor sociopaths? If not, they are exhibiting at least two traits of sociopathology: a glaring lack of empathy and repetition of failed practices.

The City of Fresno lost a lawsuit in 2008, Kincaid v. Fresno, and was ordered to pay out several million dollars to unhoused plaintiffs for the same Constitutional violations they are intentionally planning to commit now. The City also lost a lawsuit in 2022 for implementation of an ordinance that barred advocates from being near encampment sweeps. They were forced to abandon the ordinance under a court-ordered injunction.

Don’t let your tax dollars be wasted on lawsuits.

Take Action!
If you don’t like your tax dollars wasted on lawsuits, protest the latest draconian ordinance from the Fresno City Council that bans unhoused residents from most areas of Fresno. Contact the mayor and City Council members now.

Also, you can provide aid to the unhoused residents of Fresno: 1) purchase some tents and blankets and pass them out, and 2) provide cold water to the unhoused on these hot summer days. Show some compassion to distinguish yourself from the elected “leaders” of Fresno.

Mayor Jerry Dyer
Call 559-621-8000
Comment at

Fresno City Council Members
Call 559-621-8000
Comment at 
District 1: Annalisa Perea
District 2: Mike Karbassi
District 3: Miguel Arias
District 4: Tyler Maxwell
District 5: Luis Chavez
District 6: Garry Bredefeld
District 7: Nelson Esparza


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9 months ago

These City Council members are the worst of the worst!!!! So you are trying to sweep the problem under the rug, instead of fixing the problem. I thought your job was to make this city better, not cause more harm to people that are suffering to worst thing amaginable. Karma has a way of paying people like them (Council members) for their uspeakable behavior. These people are human beings!!! I’d bet that they treat a dog better than these unfortunate people. I can not believe that you are “stealing” the only belonging they have in this world!!! I can not believe that you can sleep at night with what you have done!!! I can not believe that you can look in the mirror and like who you see!!! As the article stated, you are sociopathes!

9 months ago

San Diego CA is doing the thing as Frensa. I think that the people who ate doing this. Should live on the streets for a month. They would not survied Unless the people who donte thier time and items they sre given to pass out. Also their needs to be rent control in the entire state of CA.

Tammy whitt
Tammy whitt
9 months ago
Reply to  Dorothea

Fresno is way worse than SD. Although there new laws suck to. So where r there unhoused going? This is wen governer Newsom needs to step in. I know he isn’t to crazy about the homeless situation either but can you say Fresno u r outta control? They need a whole new city council minus 1 anda new mayor for allowing that to even pass. How dare u all be like that and watch how man sicknesses and deaths you will have on your heads. Shame on a of these cities for there very dumb plans but shame on Fresno the most. GOD don’t like ugly and if u believe in him in any way u better step back and take a good look at yourselves.

Fred T.
Fred T.
8 months ago

Even though I love our nation, I also despise how their are people who have swept under the rug or turn a blind eye to the treatment of human beings that are not of the same color as the so called founding fathers of this nation. When we don’t see one another in our humanity as belonging to the human race above anything else. We lose, because by identifying people though color and ethnicity we become lesser of what we strive to become. When life that has been given to us, (not through or by any of our power) can be so easily snuff out or looked down upon. For it is and through God’s power that we are here and Lord help us when we have to stand before him in judgment and receive our due punishment, for the atrocities that we have turned away from and allowed to happen on our watch. I believe it will be a sad and surprising day when we are standing before him and claiming that we were in our walk as supposedly Christian’s, have sit back and allowed to happen to the melting pot of multiplicity of diverse races that are found within the borders of this country. When we hide behind and cling to an amendment as a right to torture, kill and destroy the the lives of its citizens through gun intimidation from government, law enforcement and regular citizens, those who have in my estimation have allowed this type of behavior of how we treat one another to become travesty within our society because, we are our brothers keeper! We continue to keep on the books laws and amendments that hold down, stifle and restrict access to rights every person as citizen of the United States of America or looking to be become citizens. The opportunity for equality across the board for all ethnicities and races! Yet we conspire and make up things that will allow us to separate ourselves from one another as being better or superior to others that are not like us (or mis appropriate laws that were meant to liberate certain races that have endured legitimate oppression and discrimination) and instead accommodate others who look to use those same laws in manner that they were not intended to be used for. We also elect those who are not familiar with the plight of the majority of its citizens, who are middle to lower class and need a representative who knows what it’s like to live their lives without having a silver spoon. We by an election process that doesn’t allow for just the average person the opportunity to be able to run and not have to worry about whether they will be criticized for there lack of a social status and who legitimately seeks to be a representative who is above reproach that cannot be bought off by those with agendas that don’t necessarily reflect the values and interests of those who they claim they represent as ambassadors for their fellow citizens and truly seek to serve with the best of intentions through humility an has the ability to bring people together for the greater good of whom they represent in the Federal, State and Local governments.

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