According to San Diego Police Officer Lieutenant Adam Sharki, the case is under investigation and detectives are looking for witnesses and evidence.
The assailant fired at least seven shots with bullet holes found in panels covering a street-facing chain link, one of which hit the air conditioning unit and caused a leak, and more bullet holes were found in a large aluminum duct on the south side of the building. asylum. exterior walls. Police confirmed that a bullet had almost passed through the wall of the bomb shelter, where it could have hit a person.
While the incident is being investigated, there is every reason to believe that the violent act was a hate crime against the city’s growing homeless population. A December 2022 survey by the Downtown San Diego Partnership found that 1,839 people were sleeping either on the street or in their cars in the downtown area, up from 1,706 the previous month.
This month’s shooting was the second targeting the Alpha Project in five years since the shelter opened in downtown San Diego.
In December 2019, a little over a month after opening, a shooting resulted in the death of a guard just outside the shelter’s walls. At the time of the 2019 incident, Bob McElroy, president and CEO of the Alpha Project, told the San Diego Union Tribune“After Ernie (security guard) was killed, we asked for armed security there on that corner and we never got it.”
Unsurprisingly, the latest shooting has left staffers anxious, with several refusing to show up for their Sunday evening services, according to the Union stand.
The San Diego shooting occurred less than a week after art gallery owner Collier Gwin in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood aggressively sprayed an elderly homeless woman with water in cold weather. The video of the incident previously went viral, sparking outrage over the discriminatory attack on the homeless. Due to the outcry, Gwin now faces battery charges and was arrested, while the case remains an open investigation, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The attacks in San Francisco and San Diego are part of a larger trend in discriminatory acts and hate crimes against the homeless in California and the rest of the United States.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, between 1999 and 2015, at least 1,657 homeless people were subjected to violence against them just because they were homeless. The same report cites that of 199 attacks against the homeless from 2014 to 2015, the majority of these crimes took place in California (43 attacks).
Daily life is becoming increasingly dangerous for the homeless in the US, who bear the brunt of the social crisis, including the impact of extreme weather due to global warming, including California’s recent record-breaking storms that caused many deadly floods , as well as rising costs of food and housing.
In San Diego alone, homeless deaths rose as much as 7 percent from 2021 to a total of 574 deaths, 28 more than last year’s 536, both significantly higher than 357 the year before, indicating larger trends.
According to Crosstown LA, the Los Angeles Police Department recorded the homicide of 85 homeless people in the city in 2021, the highest number ever recorded and more than double the number recorded in 2019. While homeless people make up just 1 percent of the city’s population, they accounted for 21 percent of all homicide victims in 2021.
In addition to violence against the homeless, homelessness itself is also on the rise. Between 2019 and 2021, there was an 89 percent increase in the number of newly homeless families in San Diego County shelters, according to the Regional Task Force on Homelessness. This task force reports that 15,327 people moved into housing for the first time in the past 12 months, which is significantly more than the 11,861 formerly homeless people who moved into housing.
Based on a CalMatters analysis of the federal government’s point-in-time census in early 2022, the number of homeless people in California has increased by at least 22,500 since 2019 to 173,800. There are at least 582,462 homeless people in the entire US.
These numbers are significant underestimations, as they are based on a physical and visual workforce of homeless people sleeping on the streets and in shelters for just one night. Called “point-in-time count,” this method is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is tied to federal funding for homeless initiatives, despite the fact that it results in a significant undercount.
Many of the millions in the US who are in perpetual economic uncertainty, homeless or on the verge of becoming homeless are currently employed, but their low wages keep basic housing needs out of reach.
According to May 2020 wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at least 27 million American workers do not earn enough to meet their basic needs, such as health care, food and rent. The typical California city has a 38 percent higher cost of living than the average U.S. city, according to the 2020 Cost of Living Index, and San Diego is one of the most expensive cities in California to live. Many San Diego workers move to Tijuana, Mexico, which is right on the other side of the US-Mexico border, and commute to work to avoid homelessness.
The capitalist ruling class and their politicians cannot and will not solve this crisis. Rather than treating the homelessness epidemic as the crisis it is, the government is trying to make it seem less rampant through cosmetic solutions such as criminalizing tents, creating infrastructure specifically designed to make life more difficult for the homeless , and banning people from sleeping on public land. or in their vehicles.
Meanwhile, the financial interests of developers and speculators are thoroughly protected by both Democrats and Republicans. A Democratic Party stronghold, California has some of the highest rents in the world. The massive $4 billion investment deal between the Democratic Party-dominated UC Regents and the predatory Blackstone Group, the nation’s largest landowner, is just one example of the capitalist politicians’ class interests profiting from the housing crisis while paying only lip service about their homeless ‘initiatives’.
Last week, Democratic Mayor of San Diego Todd Gloria published an editorial in the San Diego Union Tribune about his plans for homelessness, in which he didn’t even mention the shooting. “Over the past two years, we have made 658 extra beds available, an increase of 61 percent,” the mayor boasted. To see how inadequate this number of new beds in a two-year frame is to the magnitude of this crisis, one need only look at the number of homeless deaths in San Diego County over the past two years, which is well over 1,000.
While Gloria and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership cynically claim to help the homeless, they ignore how last October his office instructed police to crack down on this vulnerable population by reinstating the policy of removing people’s tents from the streets during the day away from downtown. These mandates, which were already facing police abuse, have only exacerbated this abuse.
With capitalism in a deepening crisis, the ruling class is placing the burden of this crisis on the working class and the poor. Increased homelessness and poverty are a predictable consequence of decades of cuts to social and mental health care, declining living standards, bailing out the ultra-rich in every economic crisis, and the Federal Reserve’s policy of raising interest rates to ease the burden of the economic crisis on the working class, in the Fed’s own words, expecting to bring “pain” to the working class and the poor.
The reality is that millions of workers in the US are on the brink of homelessness, just one major medical bill or life event away from not paying rent, and many are on their way to unemployment. In the past week alone, there has been a massive mass murder of jobs across the tech industry, leading to the loss of 40,000 jobs. Capitalism does not guarantee even the most basic necessities of life to the working masses in the US or around the world. The struggle for a mass international workers’ movement for socialism is the only solution.