Bathroom Access Is a Human Right Neglected in San Diego

by on June 9, 2021 · 1 comment

in Homelessness, San Diego

By Mitchelle Woodson, Jennifer Felner, Megan Welsh / San Diego Union-Tribune Op-Ed / June 7, 2021

Last month, a bystander’s video of Jesse Evans’ encounter with San Diego Police Department officers in La Jolla made national news. Evans’ suspected crime? Trying to meet a basic human function — urination — while Black and homeless in one of San Diego’s whitest and wealthiest neighborhoods.

The SDPD’s response? To stop Evans and engage in a violent struggle lasting nearly three minutes, punching him repeatedly. In police body camera footage, officers are heard instructing Evans to “stop resisting” arrest for public urination. Evans repeatedly states, “I just need to p—” and “I’m gonna p— my pants.”

Why did SDPD officers think that arresting Evans was the appropriate response? Because too often, the SDPD chooses to take a punitive rather than service-oriented approach to address people’s needs. This illustrates why police should not be first responders to homelessness.

Our consistent lack of investment in public bathrooms has endangered public health on two fronts: All San Diegans are more vulnerable to public health crises, and the most marginalized San Diegans are more vulnerable to police violence.

For the balance of this article, please go here.

Woodson is executive director of Think Dignity, a nonprofit with a mission to inspire, empower and organize the San Diego community to advance basic dignity for those living on the streets, and lives in North Park. Felner is a postdoctoral research fellow at San Diego State University’s School of Public Health and the Institute for Behavioral and Community Health, and lives in Ocean Beach. Welsh is associate professor of criminal justice and public administration at San Diego State University’s School of Public Affairs, and lives in Golden Hill.

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Our consistent lack of investment in public bathrooms has endangered public health on two fronts: All San Diegans are more vulnerable to public health crises, and the most marginalized San Diegans are more vulnerable to police violence.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Avatar Ellen June 10, 2021 at 7:57 am

Takes me back to the 60’s. And not in a good way.

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