[Ed. note – It seems the city of Santa Cruz, California has decided that human beings who can’t afford to put a roof over their heads should be dealt with as mosquitoes. The city has installed what are referred to as “mosquito boxes” in parks and underneath overpasses. The electronic boxes emit a high-pitched sound which reportedly causes headaches and nausea. Reports from local Santa Cruz mainstream news outlets have been mostly approving. One, here, says the boxes have been effective in cutting “loitering and illegal activity,” although another, here, does voice a few concerns over what impact the boxes may be having on wildlife. The only report I could find that evinces any concern at all on the impact to homeless residents, and which includes actual quotes from those so situated, is the one I have excerpted below.
My guess is we are going to see an increase in demand for mosquito boxes from cities all across the country as the US moves closer and closer toward an economic crash. The stock market plunged more than 400 points today–the first day of business trading in 2016–and as one analyst puts it, “the rolling tsunami is about to wipe away the life savings of millions for the third time in fifteen years.” ]
Driving Out the Mosquitoes: Making Homelessness Illegal
By Dennis J. Bernstein
The seaside city of Santa Cruz, California, is one of several municipalities in Northern California that have become home for the herds of bubble up dot-comers rolling the dice in Silicon Valley. From San Francisco to San Jose to Berkeley, and down the coast to Salinas and Monterey, local officials are salivating at the multitude of possibilities for bringing in the tax bucks. And more often than not, these local officials are rolling out their welcome mats for the Silicon set, right over the bodies of the growing numbers of the poor and disinherited in this wealthy nation.
“They’ve actually installed mosquito boxes to drive out the homeless and hungry,” says Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs (Global). “They’ve set up these horrible sound machines that they put under the bridges and in parks that just turn on automatically and drive people out of the areas, because they make you nauseous and give you a terrible headache.”
I spoke to McHenry as he passed out free food in front of the post office in downtown Santa Cruz. McHenry described a situation that is familiar to many advocates for the poor and homeless across the region and across the country. “The poor and growing numbers of the desperately hungry in this city, state, and country are under attack,” said McHenry. “There are new laws just in the last couple of years, and others that have been strengthened, that make it a crime to be poor and hungry.”
McHenry, and more than a dozen other housing and homeless advocates interviewed for this article, expressed alarm at the expanding attempts by state governments and local municipalities to criminalize the homeless by passing harsh laws and local ordinances that make it unbearable and downright dangerous to live on the street.
“Now they’ve got these new ‘stay-away orders’ here in Santa Cruz,” said McHenry, “and city employees can just ban you from parks for up to half a year at a time. And you can end up getting a year’s sentence if you violate these stay-away orders. They treat the homeless and hungry like they’re pigeons, or some kind of vermin that can just be driven away. Their human rights are being totally violated.”