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Archive for February, 2010

All are invited to Anti-War Protests to

END THE WAR ON THE POOR

every Tuesday, in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse in Eureka

3-6pm

Dinner shared on site

For more information contact PEOPLE PROJECT:

(707) 442-7465
peopleproject@riseup.net

Gather every Tuesday to build strength with neighbors and other community
members to END the WAR ON THE POOR!

—–
The war on the poor takes many forms. PEOPLE PROJECT understands that all wars are wars against the poor, the Earth, and the defenseless. The war on the poor includes lack of affordable housing, lack of access to healthcare, abuse of millions of animals in factory farms, slaughterhouses and labs, and heavy military recruitment of youth for global wars on the poor. The war on the poor includes state violence against refugees and houseless people, corporate exploitation of working people, lack of decent jobs, and the injustice of the prison industrial complex.

A main focus for PEOPLE PROJECT is to stop the criminalization of houseless people. Please join us to speak out and build strength to END THE ‘WAR ON THE POOR’, however you experience it.

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Freestyle spending: The unofficial sport of the 2010 Winter Olympics
Talia Joundi, Feb 22

According to The Vancouver Poverty Olympics, a group of citizens who oppose the 2010 winter games, Vancouver’s lavish spending in order to host the Olympic Games could have been more justly spent. Hosting the Olympics resulted in a loss of some major cash that could have, in theory, alleviated local social disasters, such as the devastating issue of homelessness. The Poverty Olympics seeks to shed some light on the ugly side of a city named one of the world’s most livable places by the United Nations.

When it comes to poverty, there’s no competing with Vancouver. According to Jean Swanson, one of the main organizers of the event, there are 700 homeless people around the downtown Eastside neighborhood and another 2,600 in the metro Vancouver area. “British Columbia has had the highest child poverty rate for six years in a row [ . . . ] We have the lowest minimum wage and the highest cost of living in Canada,” said Swanson.

Two years ago, Jean Swanson, along with a coalition of anti-poverty groups in B.C., thought that it was about time low-income people had the chance to attend the Olympics. Considering the tickets for the opening ceremonies can go up to $1,100, they decided to create their own games, open to the public and free of charge.

Although the organization is relatively new, it has had huge success. This year, their province-wide toilet plunger relay hit 20 cities before reaching downtown Vancouver for the opening ceremonies. The event even attracted foreign media, “We’ve had coverage from Japan, Finland and two or three interviews in Germany, we also just did an interview with the L.A. Times today,” said Swanson.

“We’re hoping that they will embarrass Canada in the eyes of the world, so politicians can get their butts together and do something to reduce poverty and homelessness,” she said.

This year’s Poverty Olympics mascots included Chewy the Rat, Itchy the Bedbug and Creepy the Cockroach — all frequent visitors of the hotel rooms being rented out by low-income people in the downtown Eastside. Their “games” — better defined as skits — were oozing with sardonic messages. “Housing Hurdles,” put on by the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center, and “Wrestling for the Candy,” a duel between kids and an “evil developer” are two examples.

Swanson says that the Olympics are all about real estate. Developers have been building condos and advertising more heavily than ever before. “They’re building in our neighborhood, which is displacing low income residents,” said Swanson.

The games also included a “Broken Promise Slalom.” “The skiers were Stephen Harper and Gordon Campbell [ . . . ] and they missed every gate, which was labeled with an Olympic promise,” explained Swanson.

In order to win over the 2010 Winter Olympics, the games were dressed up as a socially responsible event that would improve the city’s facilities, public transit and, most importantly, expand available social housing. Vancouver’s Olympic partners made a few Layton-worthy promises, including the pledge to create an affordable housing legacy and to ensure that poor residents were not displaced or evicted due to the Games.

I asked Swanson what the government of B.C. did to try to fulfill their promises. Apparently, my question was funny. After having a good laugh, she mentioned that the government built some shelters, for which the funding runs out on April 1. Other than that, another initiative the government bragged about was the buying out of hotels for the homeless in the downtown Eastside. However, according to Swanson, the hotels were already full when they bought them, so they couldn’t even provide any additional housing.

“They’re hiding the homeless,” said Swanson. Instead of addressing the issue, the B.C. government haphazardly swept the homeless off the streets, before international visitors started pouring in. “Out of sight, out of mind, eh?” Great work BC.

The purpose of Poverty Olympics is to strengthen the message that the $7 billion spent on the Olympics could have instead been spent on eradicating poverty, and could have been successful. “People living in a slum hotel getting bitten by bed bugs and having cockroaches prance over them aren’t too impressed by the new $178 million skating oval,” said Swanson. “This has become a corporate spectacle for the rich,” she said.

In the short term, Poverty Olympics believes that it is pressures from concerned groups not unlike theirs that is responsible for the fact governments are taking small steps toward a change, even if they are just temporary.

The next time you’re out shopping and come down with a little Olympic fever in the face of 2010 merchandise, ask yourself, “Who am I really supporting?” It would be nice to imagine the money ending up with those who need it most, but let’s get real. For now, the rich are getting richer, while the rest are left with toilet plungers, waiting for some change.

Talia Joundi is a first-year student at the University of Manitoba.

The Olympics are NOT benign sport competitions. The Olympics is big business which destroys the regions and lives in the sites where they occur. For more about the colonial, capitalist Olympic industry (and its nasty fascist history), and for info about the ongoing RESISTANCE to the Olympics, check out No 2010 Olympics on Stolen Native Land http://www.no2010.com/ Click HERE to download the Anti-2010 Booklet with lots of information.

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February 14, 2010 Gene Taylor died of asphyxiation after the tent he lived in the woods at Del Norte pier caught fire. Gene went through his first earthquake here and used to frequent our Good Morning Neighbors Breakfast each Tuesday and Friday morning, as a matter of fact that is where I met him. During the week before Christmas Gene was beaten up and sustained broken ribs. Knowing his situation and what broken ribs feels
like I invited him to stay at my house with my son Josh and Steve who sleeps in his truck in my driveway. The four of us had a Christmas together that I will always be grateful for.
Friday, February 19, 2010 at Noon we will gather at the Del Norte Pier for a memorial for Gene. More info will come later. –Kathy Anderson, People for a Human Rights Sanctuary

 

This is a link to the article that the North Coast Journal’s Heidi Walters wrote after she attended the memorial. Below the link are two online comments to the article.http://www.northcoastjournal.com/issues/2010/02/25/gentleman-wanderer/

1. kathy anderson:
Feb 25, 2010

Heidi did a good job of reporting this story. She is excellent at playing what she called “the devils advocate”. In answer to the question of whether I used my friends death as a ploy to get attention to the homeless situation I must state what is obvious to others who advocate for homeless people and there right to be treated equally within our society; I speak and do what I can to bring justice to those who are unjustly treated in this society. That is all, it’s very simple. There are no hidden agendas of financial gain or prestige, as a matter of fact my fellow advocates and I are in poverty ourselves and understand what the average citizen wonders about and know that we must tell the true stories of what is REALLY going on in and about homelessness. We get spit at and harassed by police, government, property owners and business persons just like our homeless neighbors do. The personal stories need to be told because society forgets about the human condition that is made more dangerous as each day passes when ignorance and cruelty are running rampant. Why do we not have campgrounds as affordable housing? God have mercy on our souls for being negligent and mean-spirited!

2. belle:
Feb 25, 2010

It makes a big difference when people like this are “humanized” and made real people. Thank you for this article. As much as I would hate to read obituaries, I would love more human contacts with those who are alive and well, living an “alternative” life style that we need to try to understand. Kind of goes with your Indian Island story.
We are all here together. Let us look at ourselves first to make change and life a better thing.

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from Redwood Curtain CopWatch

REDWOOD CURTAIN COPWATCH (707) 633-4493 copwatchrwc@gmail.com
February 15, 2010

Re: EPD Sergeant Michael Quigley

Open Letter To Eureka Police Chief Garr Nielsen,
Eureka City Council members,
Eureka Mayor Virginia Bass
Eureka City Attorney Sheryl Schaffner:

We, of Redwood Curtain CopWatch, receive report after report of unprovoked, vicious behavior by Sergeant Michael Quigley toward houseless people. With this letter we intend, once again, to alert you to Quigley’s regular practice of abusing his authority and abusing people whom he apparently perceives to have little to no political power. As exhibited by his indecent and cruel behavior, Quigley believes he has absolute impunity to blatantly and repeatedly violate peoples’ human and constitutional rights. This open letter goes out to hundreds of individuals and groups to call attention to Quigley’s ongoing unacceptable behavior and to publicly call on you to correct it immediately and prevent any such misconduct and abuse in the future.

Redwood Curtain CopWatch aims to stop oppressive, abusive police activity, support victims of police abuse, and provide education regarding rights and social action. We observe and film police activity in the streets in an effort to hold the police accountable for their behavior, and we speak with many people about their experiences with the police in this area. We have informed you in the past of Quigley’s vile and discriminatory behavior toward poor and houseless people, and have received no substantial response nor seen any change on his part. In fact, Quigley seems to have become increasingly hostile.

As CopWatch, we see that Quigley is more concerned with undermining our work than upholding his duty. He has a habit of approaching whoever is using a camera to observe, and using his chest to obscure the view of the camera and prevent documentation. The night after the January 9, 2010 earthquake, Redwood Curtain CopWatch responded to a call from a resident of a damaged building. The resident requested our presence because her landlord and the police were both present at the evacuated building. Upon our arrival, Quigley shoved his body close to the camera-person and moved around to block our view of the situation. We then overheard Quigley lie to a resident family with a baby, telling them that they could not go retrieve things from their apartment because “They [CopWatch] have us on video and if I let you go up there, they will sue us.” Quigley’s behavior indicates that he is actively suppressing CopWatch’s right to observe police activity, and that he is attempting to influence people to fear or dislike our presence. Furthermore, he makes a spectacle to intimidate more of the public from exercising their constitutional rights to observe and videotape police activity. Many of the incidents documented by Redwood Curtain CopWatch wherein Quigley hurts and degrades people occur in relative isolation.

Every day, Quigley intimidates and bullies poor people.

Toward the end of January, Quigley and Eureka Police Officer Wayne Rabang approached a van parked near the Marina. They banged on the vehicle, shouted, rocked the vehicle and made lots of noise. Quigley then slid the screen part of the window open and put his hand inside. He pushed away the curtain and threatened to smash the windows if the person inside did not come out. After the owner of the van rolled down the window about halfway in the front/cab, Quigley then grabbed with both hands the window and started shaking it back and forth. He then reached one hand in, unlocked and opened the door, and physically grabbed the owner of the van, pulling him out of the van and onto the front of the police car.

Quigley then demanded identification from the van’s owner. The owner, a calm and soft-spoken person, stated that his ID was inside the van; when he went to get the ID, Quigley grabbed him and pushed him down. Although Quigley physically refused to let the man retrieve any of the van’s paperwork and the man had not been driving, Quigley began interrogating the man about the vehicle and made irrelevant comments and accusations about “people pissing and shitting on the streets.” Quigley spoke menacingly to the man and told him to appreciate that he [Quigley] was being a nice guy because he “could have just climbed into the vehicle.”

Rabang at some point said “We’ve had a lot of trouble with this vehicle.” Quigley then told the man (owner) that the vehicle did not belong to him! When the man replied that it does, the officers said (if you can believe this) that the same vehicle was parked “over there” the other day, but “at that time it was brown.”!! Then Quigley told the man that he did not have a valid driver’s license. The man has a valid license from another state, and had just arrived in this area. Quigley told him that if he wanted to drive here, he would have to register “with my king.” Quigley then cited the man for camping and threatened to have the vehicle towed if he if he saw it again.

A camping ticket is an infraction accusation/charge. It is not a driving violation charge. It does not warrant entry into a person’s vehicle. It does not require force. It does not warrant a tow or the threat of a tow. It certainly does not warrant the rude, intimidating, and violent behavior exhibited by Quigley. But, Quigley is a repeat offender of people’s rights- particularly people whom he perceives to have no shelter, or limited resources.

Poverty is not a crime, yet Quigley criminalizes houseless people and makes them unsafe, thereby exacerbating their condition of poverty.

-Quigley told people who were in an alley that if “anyone gets caught pissing in the alley, they’ll get beat up and put on a bus to Sacramento.”

-He aggressively awoke one houseless woman from sleep, accused her of being high on methamphetamines, bruised her up and down her arms and threw her in jail.

-After Quigley’s return from a leave of absence, he approached a young man sitting in his truck and, assuming that the man had been sleeping in the truck, told him “now that I’m back, you and the other parasites better watch out.”

-Quigley ran a black man and his children – a homeless family – out of Eureka by harassing and threatening them constantly.

-Quigley harasses people at St.Vincent de Paul’s Free Meal day after day, going so far as to ticket poor people whom he accused of sleeping in their vehicles the night before. He has been heard there saying “There’s no free lunch in Eureka”

-In December, Quigley walked up to an officer who had twice confirmed that the two people he’d approached were not breaking any laws and were free to go. Quigley clearly wanted to arrest someone, so he almost instantly ‘ordered’ the arrest of the houseless man (one of the two people) who was not being detained- for not providing his name to the other officer. The DA rejected prosecuting the case “in the interest of justice”. You can watch video of what happened at: http://vimeo.com/9410853

Quigley acts despicably toward houseless people. As a police officer, Quigley is a representative of the City of Eureka and the Eureka Police Department and therefore his aggressive harassment of Eureka’s residents should concern city officials and the community. He physically and verbally assaults houseless people with his invasive and criminal behavior. Quigley’s targeting and punishing people based on their status (or perceived status) must stop. He is a danger to our community. There are hundreds of incidents involving Quigley that prove it. He exhibits a complete lack of compassion and professionalism. His inhumane treatment of some of the most vulnerable people in our community is unfair, unnecessary, and illegal. Appropriate action on the part of the City of Eureka and the Eureka Police Department would include disciplinary action or firing. We expect a timely response explaining how this situation is being satisfactorily remedied.

Please remind Sergeant Quigley that retaliation for this or any other complaint is against the law.

Sincerely,
Redwood Curtain CopWatch

cc: Civil Liberties Monitoring Project
Civil Liberties Defense Center
Humboldt County Human Rights Commission
Ms. Susie VanKirk
Eureka Times-Standard
Humboldt County Public Defender
Humboldt County Conflict Counsel
Humboldt County Alternate Conflict Counsel
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

Here is a pdf attachment of the letterOpenLetter_re_EPDQuigley_2_15_10

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