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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Homeless Man Has the Right to Sell Street Sheet in Front of SFMOMA, Jury Says

Posted By on Tue, May 10, 2011 at 10:50 AM

click to enlarge Stop the presses ... a homeless man beat the system!
  • Stop the presses ... a homeless man beat the system!

Here is a front-page-worthy story for the Street Sheet, San Francisco's homeless newspaper. Last week a jury acquitted 57-year-old Reginald Hood on charges that he was disturbing the peace while selling copies of the paper outside of San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art.

On March 8, Hood was selling the Street Sheet

outside the museum when a security guard working for MOMA told Hood to

leave. The guard later claimed that after he had told him to leave, Hood threatened him outside the

museum, telling him he would break his jaw and that he would make him

"squeal like a pig."


Hood was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace and using "fighting words." He was banned from selling the paper outside the museum, which is a hot spot for Street Sheet vendors who can make good money from tourists in the area.

However, on May 3, a jury took very little time to decide that Hood had done nothing wrong, according to the Public Defender's Office.

The fatal blow in the prosecution's case came when a second witness testified that indeed Hood threatened the security guard, but that it happened inside the museum cafe, not outside the building as the guard had claimed, according to Tamara Barak Aparton, spokeswoman for the Public Defender's Office.

"The jury just didn't believe that," Aparton tells SF Weekly.

The Coalition on Homelessness publishes the monthly newspaper and lets homeless residents distribute them in exchange for $1. Bob Offer-Westort, civil rights coordinator with the Coalition and a former Street Sheet editor, says that vendors handing out the newspaper are often harassed by private security guards in business districts.

"They tell them that they aren't allowed to sell the Street Sheet -- that they are breaking the law," Offer-Westort says. "Usually, vendors will tell them to call the cops, because they know they aren't breaking the law."

And now a jury has confirmed that. 

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Bio:
Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.

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