Mendenhall referred to the property damage several times as “violence.” When our city officials selectively classify violence as paint and broken windows, they devalue threats to actual lives and livelihoods. They prioritize the aesthetics of their deluxe offices over people’s pain and suffering. But we know the expression of grief and pain is not violence. We know that standing in the streets to draw attention to injustice is not violence. We know that breaking public windows–bought with our money–that do not feel pain, that do not have hopes and dreams, that do not have family members who love and mourn them, is not violence. We know that lives are beyond value, as opposed to buildings, which do not have feelings or a body for violence to be committed to them; nor do they have a community that will mourn for their loss or pain.
In spite of what some ignorant people would have you believe; the homeless population really isn’t comprised solely of drug-addled wastrels and lazy parasites. We are capable of being thinking, feeling, loved and loving people. Many, perhaps most, are mentally or physically disabled, unable to work and in need of better treatment options. In some cases, people in this group have been forgotten, abandoned by or are without family, and therefore do not have that support.
Operation Rio Grande does not care about making Rio Grande safer for the homeless, they care about making it more palatable for business owners. That's why their solution involves brute force, violent power, and fast action. They want the homeless out of sight and out of mind. They aren't working on anything towards improving services and actually helping people. Just look at the way they talk about the phase 2 and phase 3—they never account for how they will provide for the needs of 600 people arrested. They have yet to find treatment and services for so many people, but had no problem arresting all of them in a matter of days.
According to a 2019 report, “Human Rights Watch has consistently found in research across various countries that criminalization makes sex workers more vulnerable to violence, including rape, assault, and murder, by attackers who see sex workers as easy targets because they are stigmatized.” Unsurprisingly, police are often the biggest perpatrators against the sex work community. Moreover, as the World Aids Campaign found, sex workers are at greater risk of experiencing health disparities due to criminalization. These risks are exponentially multiplied for trans sex workers, and sex workers of color.