By Carol Harvey
February 18, 2020
A Facebook Friend asked me how I knew Mike Zint. He allowed me to write my requiem for Mike. I’ll share it with you.
Sarah Menefee dubbed me “the Peoples Journalist” of SF Occupy. ” I wrote for the San Francisco Bay Citizen newspaper about the strategists on the ground who started the movement in San Francisco after some New York activists imported Occupy to the Bay Area — artist and veterans’ advocate, Pirate Mike Clift along with a crackerjack street fighter named SKUD, and poets Sarah Page and Sarah Menefee, founder of Homes Not Jails, and a few others.
I met Mike later at Justin Herman Plaza after the movement was underway. He was a unique thinker with serious respiratory issues even then. He was rail thin. I liked him immediately. Great intelligence, practicality, and (as you pointed out), a sense of humor, very droll. He told me he had worked as an animal wrangler in Hollywood. He was a veteran; got off drugs; stopped smoking. He managed to stay housed in an RV near Golden Gate Park.
After Mayors across the US including Ed Lee, swept out the Occupy movement, Mike realized San Francisco had become hopeless in dealing with homelessness. He sold his RV to fund a homeless movement in Berkeley, and, with Sarah Menefee (friend to all homeless people and housed homeless poet), founded “First They Came For The Homeless, (Sarah created the name)” outside the Berkeley Post Office. He spoke of “taking” the post office as if they were fighting for ground in battle as only a veteran would.
If you want to know how seriously good he was as a historian and political strategist, watch the first two clips in this video playlist I shot of Mike where he speaks of post offices having been set up by Benjamin Franklin to be “The Commons,” and about the origin of the town cryer — Paul Revere was acting as a town cryer when he did his midnight ride announcing, “The British Are Coming!”
Mike was passing out cards with Richard Blum’s photo captioned, “Don’t Be A Dick Blum” which I spliced in at the end of the clip — attached below.
I had begun doing investigative reporting at Treasure Island at the time, and I knew Blum has a heavy financial interest in Treasure Island.
Mike lived outside the post office, “holding it down,” and was the force behind the movement with his growing troops for the next six years. He got sicker, got housed, far away from his homeless friends — and, I think he may have died of boredom and pneumonia, separated from his role as street fighter and his “family.” (Some folks think this was done purposely to get rid of him.)
You would have liked Mike for his brilliant thinking and knowledge of detail which you share. You and he have a lot in common — minds flashing around like crazy.
You gave me an opportunity to write my only requiem for Mike. Thanks.
Watch the whole video series to understand Mike (Mike Zint)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NphIBJreW2I&list=PLHrKWOo7hlZAnGzmaSuOQUgVDW1btzzFK&index=2&t=53s&fbclid=IwAR2bvsCT-zMA26EAu4wTKzgp75XGJDsX3o3XO3f5l22SmVZ5LnDbUw1kqJs — with Monique Luz Koller, Maria Johnson, Sarah Menefee and 37 others.