SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Thousands of people are flocking to Super Bowl City, and that includes one group that is protesting San Francisco’s decision to move homeless people away from Justin Herman plaza, where Super Bowl city is now set up.
The group said it plans on setting up a homeless Super Bowl City. The group said it is upset because the city criminalizes much of the city’s homeless.
San Francisco police is giving the group the opportunity to rally on Wednesday, and scores of officers were seen manning the Embarcadero.
The demonstration started in front of the recently closed Sinbad’s Pier 2 Restaurant at 4:30 p.m., according to an announcement from the organizers.
The protesters said they are getting citations for sleeping on the streets, but they have no place to go.
“Homelessness is not a choice, and that’s where we have to start with things,” Coalition for the Homeless spokeswoman Kelly Cutler said. “There is things like there’s one shelter bed for every 5.5 homeless individuals sleeping on our streets.”
Cutler said there are over 800 people on a waitlist to get into a shelter.
Organizers said they want Mayor Ed Lee to invest $5 million in housing as well as the creation of programs to support secure sleep, hygiene as well as access to transition and health services.
Protesters carried signs saying “house keys not homelessness,” and “Hey Mayor Lee, no penalty for poverty.”
They tell KRON’s Alecia Reid that there are not enough beds in the shelters to house all of them.
The group was chanting “homeless people under attack, what will we do, rise up fight back.”
The protesters have been warned they will not be allowed to put any tents on the ground but can hold them up in the area. Police said they will remove any tents that hit the ground.
The protesters said 3,000 of those in San Francisco’s homeless population are children.
Homeless advocates say Mayor Ed Lee and other city officials are trying to keep people living on the streets out of sight from thousands of visitors expected to descend on the San Francisco Bay Area for Super Bowl 50.
City officials say homeless people are moving to shelters or living in tents under freeway overpasses to seek cover during the rainy season.
The protest had grown to more than 100 demonstrators as of 5:30 p.m., with police lining The Embarcadero to keep protesters out of the street and away from Super Bowl City, while helicopters circled overhead.
The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.