Archive for July, 2010

Cincinnati Police officers examine the scene of a incident Tuesday in which a sleeping woman was hit and killed by a police car trying to cut across Washington Park

Thomas J. Oats, right, gets a hug during a vigil for his wife, Joann Burton, in Washington Park on Tuesday evening. She was lying on the grass, where she was run over by a police car.

Woman dies after Cincinnati police car hits her in Washington Park
By Quan Truong, Jennifer Baker and Carrie Whitaker • qtruong@enquirer.com, jbaker@enquirer.com, cwhitaker@enquirer.com • July 27, 2010


OVER-THE-RHINE – Deborah Gross couldn’t get the image out of her head Tuesday – a police cruiser driving over a blanket on the Washington Park grass, the screams that followed and then seeing Joann Burton slide out from underneath.

“I couldn’t believe what I saw,” said Gross, 48, who has frequented the park for about three months. “She tried to get up, but then fell back down. She curled up in a ball and just rocked back and forth, moaning.”

Gross looked back at Cincinnati Police Officer Marty Polk and saw a pained expression fall over his face.

Near tears, he took his police hat off, wiped his hand over his head and cried “Oh my God, what have I done? … Oh my God.”

Burton – identified as homeless – died at University Hospital. She was 48.

Her death is hitting others who call Washington Park home hard.

“Everybody you see is my family,” said Tyrone Ziegler, who has lived in Washington Park on and off throughout his 51 years. “We watch out for each other.”

Before today, Washington Park’s homeless already felt threatened, especially by the city’s $47 million plan to renovate the park that sits across Elm Street from Music Hall and is in the backyard of the new School for the Creative and Performing Arts.

“This is not good,” said Latricia Harrell, 21. “People here are not happy.”

Polk, nicknamed “Eagle Eye” by those who frequent the park, was interviewed Tuesday by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which has taken over the investigation along with the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office to avoid conflicts of interest.

A 25-year veteran of the department, Polk is assigned to the park unit, Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher said. Polk will be tested for drugs and alcohol, as required by department policy. It was unclear Tuesday if he would be placed on leave.

People at the park said he generally treats them with respect and is the type to ask people to pour out cans of beer instead of ticketing them, Gross said.

“He was so distraught. It was clearly an accident,” she said. “But I know people won’t see it that way. A lot of people are angry.”

Councilman Cecil Thomas, a retired Cincinnati police detective, said he knows Polk to be an excellent police officer.

Thomas also said he is aware of the controversy over plans to renovate the park.

“We hope that people will understand there is no connection between what happened here and plans to renovate the park,” he said.

Service roads run through the park, but Streicher wasn’t sure why Polk drove onto the grass, something people at the park said they have not witnessed before.

Burton frequented the park regularly with her husband of nine months, Thomas Oats, known in his Washington Park family as “Cornbread” because he came to Cincinnati from Montgomery, Ala.

The couple recently took in a small dog named Buttermilk and had been hanging out at the park with the dog when Oats went to get cigarettes.

“I just don’t understand it,” Oats said. “I am so sad I can’t get upset no more. Somebody has to pay the price. She wasn’t doing nothing but laying on the blanket and playing with the dog.”

When he walked back into the park Tuesday night for his wife’s vigil, people from all over the park grabbed hold of him tightly, saying how sorry they were. Oats’ eyes filled with tears.

“She was a strong, beautiful woman,” Oats said. “She loved me.”

Burton’s youngest child, 22-year-old Kenneth Burton, attended her vigil as well. He said he will remember his mother’s bubbly attitude and great sense of humor.

He said he and his mother didn’t talk much about her homelessness, that she always changed the subject to talk instead about Kenneth and his four siblings.

“I’m disappointed,” said Kenneth Burton, who works full time and attends Cincinnati State’s nursing program. “We’re going to fight for her.”

Josh Spring, director of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, said this group will fight as well.

“(The officer) has been through this park before – how could he have made this mistake?” Spring said. “We should be outraged. The police protect all of us and now they have killed one of us.

“There are belongings there,” Spring said. “It is shocking that a park police officer could drive through the park and not see someone there.”

City Manager Milton Dohoney, Thomas and a team of street workers attended the vigil, where roughly 100 people circled around the spot where Burton was run over, singing hymns and reciting prayers.

After most people had gone, Oats stood near the vigil, a series of candles twisted into the ground around a photo of Burton.

“See that spot there,” he said, pointing to the spot next to her photo. “I’m sleeping right there tonight.”

PHOTOS: Woman killed in Washington Park

PHOTOS: Vigil for Joann Burton

More Media:
News 5 Story: http://www.wlwt.com/news/24409263/detail.html
WATCH: Police Cruiser Hits, Kills Woman at Park

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Friday, July 30th

Invite people you know and people you don’t know!


Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community has been at its current location for a year.

Gather this Friday to share stories, food, laughs, and music.


Special Presentations from PARC folks:
-who went to Philadelphia to be with the revolutionary MOVE organization
-who marched in the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign “March To Fulfill the Dream”
-who volunteered in New Orleans at the Meg Perry Center for Environmental Peace and Justice.

Rebelling !!!

Hope to see you Friday night!

Call PARC for more info: (707) 442-7465

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Comment from Mark

Good Morning—
I was surprised and amused to see this email. “Tell the President to do X, Y, or Z” is the rally cry of 10,000 political movements in an era when politics itself as a useful process has been co-opted. The danger of all this political faith is that it works directly against faith in SELF. Yes, every minute you spend at playing the rigged, corrupted political game is a minute of new frustration, and a minute lost to direct personal action – – the only action that will ever add beauty to your world. The political system consists of nothing but rubber handles offered to the helpless so they can play at being a part of the process. They are not. You are not. Your President and his delivery boys will spend their day meeting with rich, powerful global oligarchs and their delivery boys. Their concerns will become his concerns. He will not be reading your pleading emails for justice or fairness or even simple acknowledgment of your existence. From his bubble, he can not hear you. And doesn’t care about you.

To become free is a process of your own mind, independent of another’s actions. It depends not one iota on UN Declarations, or Mr. Obama, or Mrs. Boxer’s activities in the Senate. To be “free of” is the most important aspect of freedom. Free of depending on others you don’t really know and can’t influence. To be free of concerns you can not possibly impact in any meaningful way. To be free of the control of others who are simply using you as political canon fodder – votes to be pandered to. To be free of participating in corruption. Our political system manifests itself to common people as a gigantic illusion. Television programs and radio and newspapers and web sites all bearing political news and positions and arguments and causes and news and developments for you to get involved in – expend your energy on trying to influence. But it is all like a mere picture of candy. You can’t get satisfaction from a picture of a candy bar. It can only distract, frustrate and falsely engage you. Pick a flower. Give it to someone you love. You have just done more for the world than all the emails you will ever send to your President. Invest in reality, not illusion.

Do not wait for the authorities. It will be a very, very long wait. Don’t wait for anyone’s approval to be free. In fact, don’t wait for anyone’s approval to do what is right, what is good, what is healthy. You are free to take direct personal action – now! Today, no waiting required. No new law needed, no old law needs to be repealed. Only YOU can take matters into your own hands. Every power you ever dreamed of is fully available to you right now.

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Charlotte rejects anti-camping law

Measure was not a solution to issue of homelessness, critics say

By CHRIS GERBASI, Correspondent
Published: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 1:00 a.m.

CHARLOTTE COUNTY – Following emotional pleas from the public to help Charlotte County’s homeless population, county commissioners narrowly rejected a proposed no-camping ordinance that critics said targeted the group.

The commission on Tuesday voted 3-2 against a ban on living or sleeping outdoors in a temporary shelter on public or private property without permission from the landowner. Commissioners Robert Skidmore, Richard Loftus and Adam Cummings voted against the ordinance; Commissioners Bob Starr and Tricia Duffy were in favor.

The proposal stemmed from complaints from residents and business owners about “vagrants” living in parks or near stores. Laws against street drinking and aggressive panhandling were previously passed this year.

About 15 people, some quoting from the Bible, the Constitution and the Statue of Liberty creed, addressed commissioners. Punta Gorda lawyer Michael Haymans and others questioned the proposed ordinance’s constitutionality. Some speakers said they were formerly homeless or work with the homeless. They said they fear the trend in the county to criminalize everyday activities of homeless people: sleeping, eating, sitting, begging.

“I’d like to see the trend in thinking change to something more positive,” said Angela Hogan, executive director of the county Homeless Coalition.

Several residents asked commissioners to find compassionate alternatives to help those most likely to be affected by the ordinance, the estimated 1,000 to 1,500 people living outdoors in the county. Suggestions included creating a tent city or new shelter on county property.

“I don’t understand why this commission is spending so much time looking at short-term punitive measures instead of short-term curative measures,” resident Michael Hirsh said.

Starr insisted that this is not a “homeless issue,” but rather about property rights and trespassing, and he had support from Duffy and just three residents who spoke.

Starr has said he wants to clear out all the unlawful campsites in the county as public health hazards. If he can get support from the board, he hopes to initiate a cleanup plan with the Public Works Department. He said there are an estimated 109 campsites, and the county has contacted most of the property owners, many of whom live out of state. He said about 70 percent of the respondents have granted permission to clean up the properties.

Skidmore said he favored such a cleanup, but argued that trespassing laws already exist to deal with illegal camping. He and Loftus questioned the costs involved with the ordinance for enforcement, prosecution and incarceration.

Cummings, who also voted against the drinking and panhandling ordinances, again said he was uncomfortable with treading on personal freedom.

“I oppose this ordinance because the intent behind it is unconstitutional,” he said.

County attorney Janette Knowlton said the language was based on a Sarasota city ordinance.

One provision would have given violators the chance to be taken to a shelter rather than be charged with the second-degree misdemeanor.

She said that if no bed space was available, the offender would be given a warning and not be arrested. But with typically few beds available at the coalition’s 53-bed shelter, Hogan said the ordinance would be “unenforceable.

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Peace Protesters Call for an End to the Santa Cruz Sleeping Ban

Since July 4th, a couple dozen people have been protesting the Santa Cruz Sleeping Ban by camping each night from 8pm – 8am at the County Courthouse. Organizer Ed Frey says that the demonstration aims to “convince local and national government to stop breaching the peace, especially that of peaceful sleepers, and to instead use resources to discourage violence and warfare in all its forms.”

Indybay contributor Skidmark Bob spoke with Ed Frey, Robert Norse, and other campers who are participating in the civil disobedience in violation of the City of Santa Cruz Sleeping and Camping Ban, officially known as M.C. 6.36.010.


4th July 2010 Sleepout/Camping Ban Vigil at S.C. County Bldg. | Santa Cruz Courthouse Sleepout Day 3 |Free the Land on Peace Camp Night 3

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This is from a July 6, 2005 PLAZOID. The Plazoid was a brilliant independent, self-published pamphlet/zine that circulated in Arcata in the mid 2000’s.


SOON Nazi authorities and the police began to consign members of other groups to the new camps: homosexual men arrested as criminal offenders; Jehovah’s Witnesses who refused to obey demands to cease their activities; women accused of prostitution; people labeled “asocial” because they were homeless, begged, or for some other reason did not fit into Nazi society.

In 1936, in preparation for the Olympic Games in Berlin, German police “cleaned up” the city, arresting people deemed inappropriate—prostitutes, street people, petty thieves—and forcing hundreds of Gypsies (Sinti and Roma) into makeshift camps.

All of these early victims were easy targets, people whom other Germans did little or nothing to protect, and whose disappearance from the public scene they often welcomed.

Nazis Increase Power and Targeted Populations
Mass attacks on Nazi targets that included widely respected members of German society did not start until 1938, five years after Hitler was named chancellor. By then Nazis had firm control of all the instruments of state power—the police, courts, laws, civil service, military and press—so they could afford to be less cautious.

The “Euthanasia” Program
During the following year, 1939, Nazi authorities began deadly attacks on one of their major targets: people considered handicapped. Rather than sending them to concentration camps where they would have to be housed and fed along with people who were being held and then sometimes released, disabled people were taken from hospitals and other institutions and sent to designated locations for “special treatment.” That “special treatment” was killing. In just a few years, with the cooperation of scores of doctors, social workers, hospital administrators, and others, Nazi officials organized and carried out the murder of at least 70,000 Germans deemed “unfit for life.” To the extent possible, the authorities tried to hide these killings from the rest of the population, so that family members would not protest.

The Early Targets

The first concentration camp in Germany opened in Dachau in 1933, at a time when the Nazi government was still consolidating its power. Accordingly, it focused on political prisoners—communists, social democrats, and dissidents who posed a threat to the new regime and were unpopular with most other Germans.All of these early victims were easy targets, people whom other Germans did little or nothing to protect, and whose disappearance from the public scene they often welcomed.



“Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure!”

from the first leaflet of the “White Rose.” The White Rose began distributing anti-government leaflets in mid 1942 protesting against the brutality and evil of the nazi government, and against the extermination of the Jews, which was beginning to become known to more and more people at this time.

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The word is that raids will begin on Monday, July 19th. Cops hunt down outside-sleeping people every night, but these raids will be broad-sweeping and perhaps more orchestrated.

These raids will violate the rights of the houseless people. There are no legal, free-of-charge places to sleep in Eureka (or Arcata), so there are no options for almost all people who have no shelter except to sleep where they can find a hidden piece of ground. Then ya gotta be able to protect yourself from the rain, wind, cold, dew.

This is not a new situation. But all too often, people who are housed dismiss the reality of the situation by simply saying, “Well, there are homeless shelters for them to go to.” That is completely INACCURATE.

All of us need to sleep. That is a NECESSITY. And even the crooked, ruled by the rich courts of the U.S. say that because none of us can go without sleep, it is more of a “significant evil” to deprive a person of sleep (as do the laws against sleeping on public property and the cops who wake people up) than to break a law that prohibits you from sleeping. When someone is punished for something- like sleep- which they cannot go without, it is (here’s the court again) “cruel and unusual punishment.” I would also call it discrimination. And the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, among other things completely defied by policies throughout the U.S. :

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and
well-being of oneself and of one’s family, including food, clothing,
housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to
security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood,
old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond one’s control.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 25, Section (1)

So, if you’re a person who still needs to see something in the “law books” to really believe it’s legitimate, there is plenty to support that people have a right to sleep, even when they don’t pay rent somewhere. And if there are no available options besides a small piece of Earth (or a doorway, or a dumpster or a person’s own vehicle), people are to be left alone.

These raids of sleeping people violate a bunch of human and Constitutional rights, including the right to privacy, to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, etc. When cops (or John Shelter in Eureka or John Cassali in SoHum) steal and/or destroy peoples’ property, it doesn’t matter what they want to call it- “cleaning up”, “helping out”, “warning” -it is illegal. It is stealing. It’s cruel. It ain’t right.

Another thing that happens during these raids (and any random night): When the cops approach someone sleeping (how scary, huh?), they not only wake the person up (say 3:30am, flashlight in the eyes, hand on the gunbelt), but they often physically hurt the person. Cops slash tents, kick people in the ribs, threaten people with guns, pull folks out of their vehicles, grab people’s arms so hard they bruise, bang on windows, tow away someone’s only private space… It IS really that bad.

Every Saturday there are PEOPLE PROJECT meetings at PARC [Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community] at 1:30pm. These are spaces where we can figure out how we will fight this painful and ongoing injustice.

Please contact PEOPLE PROJECT if you want to do something about this upcoming raid situation. (707) 442-7465

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Undoubtedly, thinking himself a “good Samaritan”, John Shelter has been working the poverty pimp scene in Eureka these days, trying to get a PAID gig that’s related to poor and houseless people. He is known to speak of his ‘great programs’ that the City and/or the County “really like” or “appreciate.” Well, we know what kinds of “programs” local government really likes and appreciates: DISAPPEAR HOUSELESS PEOPLE programs.

So, John Shelter is again traveling to places where people are finding a spot to sleep (under bushes and trees, away from businesses other residences, etc) and telling people that they need to go because the cops will be coming. He also, over the past 8 or so months, has been TAKING PEOPLES’ BELONGINGS (leaving a note with his organization’s name, Northcoast Resource Center) and telling people to move along.

But, of course, (sarcasm) he’s stealing people’s only possessions and moving people onto… nowhere- FOR THEIR OWN GOOD.

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So today (July 14th) the Mateel meal was held at the Vet’s park across the street from the bookstore in Garberville(because the Mateel kitchen staff is down at the reggae site). Police (Humboldt County Sheriff’s Dept) arrived and told people that the Veteran’s have said they don’t want anyone sitting in the park, that they want it cleared out. People asked where they could go and there were no places. Police said they will arrest people who are sitting in town anywhere.

One of the people who cooks the Mateel meal reported that when she asked Deputy Ken Swithenbank where people could EAT, he responded, “They can go a day without food.”

A call was made by a caring resident (and business owner) in the area about the cops’ Vet’s Hall claim. The call went to Brian Ormond, who is supposedly the vet in charge, but he is out of town till Monday.

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There are some local eye doctors who are willing to give free vision care to houseless folks who have a need for it. We are trying to determine how much need there is. The idea is that the eye doctors would get a space for a day, set up their equipment, get eyeglasses donated, and work on between 50 and 100 people. If people need surgery, I think that would come later.

Please contact PEOPLE PROJECT at peopleproject@riseup.net, at (707) 442-7465 or comment on this post, so we can see who needs to get eye care.

Cool offer, huh?!

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