In the middle of the latest tidal wave of rent increases, evictions, speculation, and condo conversions in San Francisco, I heard about the death of Castro travel agent Jonathan Klein, who had just committed suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge after facing an Ellis Act eviction. A friend wrote about Jonathan: “People survived the plague years in this city only to fall victim to the new plague. Gentrification is the 21st century epidemic.” Jonathan’s associate, Peter Greene, also facing eviction, wrote: “We are not just spaces, contracts, leases, and commodities to be traded away in exchange for money. We have a history with the neighborhood. We’re living, and contributing, human beings. Some people don’t know the faces they’re displacing, because their own faces are buried in their cell phones.”
Speculators especially target long-term tenants in rent-controlled apartments: the opportunistic evictions of seniors, people with disabilities, and people living with AIDS. I created this poster in the spirit of ACT UP, and in memory of Jonathan Klein and so many others for whom eviction is the last straw, for distribution at the 2014 San Francisco Tenants Convention. EVICTION = DEATH, Housing = Healthcare. We’ve since used the image in a variety of other anti-eviction actions.
For this new edition, I found this paper at a local recycling store, “Scrap,” and it screamed out 80s ACT UP to me – I had to use it for this print!