Dealing with Homeless Task Forces and Police
While previously on the streets as a struggling tattoo artist in California, Jefferson George says he was constantly hassled by so-called homeless task forces, and cited for infractions of just trying to survive without shelter. He says authorities often sweep through encampments with bulldozers, and crush everything in sight including pets who might be sleeping.
“We're definitely second class citizens,” he said. “You try to grab whatever you can and just move along. You know, it's a PG rated genocide of the lower class. So generally speaking, if you are, if you get to a certain level when you're down, they kick you down, they keep you down. I've literally been starving in the gutter and have people walk over me. When you get to that point, you realize that, you know, it's more than just closed. Mouths don't get fed. People just generally don't care. They don't give a crap. You know, you are a blight on society. They don't want to see your homelessness anymore. They want to just sweep you away.”
He says he also went to jail for taking metals from unused buildings. “It's not exactly the most honorable trade, he said, “but you know, I'm sorry, but you know, I had to eat.”
The last time he was arrested, he says, police went through his bag throwing his stuff out, and just left his bicycle next to a dumpster unlocked. “So that's gone,” he said. “It’s just one step forward, three steps back constantly. You know, you try and be a functioning member of society and you get reminded that you are at a certain level …”
Passing Food Around, Doing Odd Jobs, Trying to Sell Art and Refurbishing Found Objects
Jefferson says he likes going to restaurants, and finding food and passing it around to others on the streets.
“I go to like Little Caesar's and Domino's and at the end of the night, all the pizza and all the food that they're throwing away, I gather it up and I pass it around to everybody else on the streets,” he explained.
He looks for clothes around laundry mats which he says people sometimes leave behind. He had bolt cutters he had found he was trying to sell. He tries to find buyers for his art.
Jefferson says he’s also always ready to work odd jobs. “If I see someone painting a house or mowing, I always see if they need an extra set of hands, you know,” he said. “I can make 10, five bucks here and there, doing what I can.”
But he says with so little money, he feels like a nothing in today’s American society.
“It's all about that all-mighty dollar,” he said. “Without income, no one really has the time for you. You're not a functioning member of society, you know, and as far as Section 8, government housing assistance, that all requires identification, which I am unable to obtain.”
Jefferson says he refuses to panhandle or beg for money. “I try to barter stuff,” he said. “I can’t beg. That’s how my grandparents raised me. You know I go out and try and get an honest dollar.”