Archive for the ‘landless’ Category
Posted in California, campground, civil liberties, class war, cold, criminalizing, discrimination, Eureka, CA, homeless, houseless, human rights, illegality of sleeping ban, incarceration, landless, northern california, organize, People Project, police brutality, poor people, rights, safe haven, social justice, updates, tagged City of Eureka, civil rights violations, classism, criminalizing sleep, Cyndy Day-Wilson, Dane Carr, Eureka California, homeless, houseless, human rights violations, jail, life-sustaining behavior, Mitchell Brisso Delaney and Vrieze, necessity defense, Nicolas Kleoppel, no affordable housing, no place to rest, no place to sleep, no safe sleeping place, Northern california, physiological need, police harassment, poverty, prejudice, repression, sleep deprivation, social bigotry on December 28, 2013| 2 Comments »
Posted in Arcata, CA, California, civil liberties, class war, cold, criminalizing, discrimination, environment, Eureka Rescue Mission, Eureka, CA, homeless, houseless, human rights, landless, northern california, organize, police brutality, poor people, rights, safe haven, social justice, updates, tagged alcohol, Arcata Endeavor, Arcata Night Shelter, Arcata Police Department, Arcata Service Center, Bayshore Mall, breathalyzer, camp, civil rights violations, cold weather, crimes against homeless, criminalization of homelessness, death from exposure, denied shelter, deprived of belongnings, dignity, discrimination, econimic disparity, Eureka California, Eureka Police Department, Eureka Rescue Mission, faith-based shelter system, homeless, houseless, Humboldt County Coroner, hypothermia, inhumanity, John Shelter, Kathy Anderson, lack of services, lack of shelter space, locked dumpster, New Directions, New Life Discipleship Program, no place to sleep, no warm gear, Northern california, oppression, oppressive policies, police brutality, police harassment, police interrogation, police intimidation, politics of cruelty, poor people, poverty pimp, prohibited from staying in shelter, rainy weather, selective enforcement, stolen property, stolen survival gear, tarps, tent, theft by New Directions, theft from police, unlawful detention, unsafe situation, Verbena, violation of human rights, without shelter on March 7, 2013| 2 Comments »
Since winter started, people have died in Eureka because of the cold. Well, that’s not what the coroner’s office has documented, but that is the word on the street. The temperature is what killed them, but insensitive policies might be more culpable than the winter weather. Upon walking into the Rescue Mission in Eureka, one has a breathalyzer inserted into their mouth to determine whether or not they will be allowed to have a cooked meal, bathe, and sleep inside for the night. If one doesn’t pass, then they are cast out into harsh conditions.
When alcohol is consumed and makes its way into one’s bloodstream it usually gives a sensation of warmth. This is deceptive, because alcohol causes blood to thin and increases blood flow near the skin. This means that blood which is flowing near the skin will be rapidly affected by the cold,which then inhibits one’s body from maintaining homeostasis. This causes the human body to loose its ability to sustain a living temperature, which increases one’s susceptibility to hypothermia.
This is relevant when one is denied access to shelter for having a drink and is forced, out of bodily necessity, to sleep underneath a building, in the woods, or out in a field. When one sleeps outside in Eureka they have to be concerned about the Eureka Police Department harassing them throughout the night. This tends to happen either through selective enforcement or violence.
By selective enforcement, an officer giving one a citation for illegal “camping”, which one probably can’t afford later, and which may become an active warrant. Or sometimes selective enforcement takes shape in other ways. In Eureka and Arcata people are commonly profiled for looking poor and arbitrarily searched for drugs without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Sometimes people who are profiled as being on the street are detained for no decent reason. For instance, a kid that I befriended while I was living at the Arcata Night Shelter showed me a detainment certificate one morning that he was given two days prior. When I asked him why he was detained, he told me that he didn’t know. Apparently, when he was walking down the street in Arcata, minding his business, a cop car rolled up, put him in handcuffs, and forced him into the back of the car. He was never told specifically why he was detained, the most that was told to him was that he looked like he was about to do something suspicious.
By violence, having your tent, tarps, or temporary shelter intruded upon, ransacked, and destroyed. Your belongings will be rendered unsalvageable and thrown into a locked dumpster. After being criminalized and dehumanized, there are few material possessions left to stay dry and warm which leaves one hoping they don’t die of hypothermia. Or sometimes violence takes shape in other ways. My friend “star gazer”, who I met during my stay at the Arcata Night Shelter, was lifted off of the sidewalk and thrown onto the concrete after she refused to communicate with cops who were asking her why she had blood on her forehead. She was unconcerned, minding her own business, and did not have any obligation to talk to the cops. They detained her and towed the car that she was living in which was parked at the end of the street. Because of this, she had nowhere to go after her car was impounded. Because she had nowhere safe to go after this happened, and because she was alone, she got taken advantage of one night and ended up getting raped. This would have never happened if her car was not impounded for no decent reason.
Houseless people continue to die and unnecessarily suffer. This is because they are denied access to shelter for drinking; because their possessions are looted and trashed; because of the callousness of John Shelter behind New Directions; because of the policies and the people at the Eureka Rescue Mission; because of the current policies, the lack of policies, and the lolly-pop lady at the Arcata Night Shelter; and because of the sick brutality of the Eureka Police Department.
New Directions claims to be an organization which stewards the environment by “cleaning up” trash left behind from people sleeping outside as well as “cleaning up” encampments themselves. New Directions also prides itself in giving houseless people opportunities to give their life a “new direction” by paying them to “clean up trash” and by providing them with temporary living quarters. This facade sounds endearing, but the reality is that “cleaning up” usually takes the form of abusive behavior that has included stealing people’s tarps, tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, and personal belongings and throwing them into a locked dumpster so they can not be retrieved later. John Shelter is the man behind New Directions who started the agency, organizes the policies, and recruits new people to work for him. Prior to starting New Directions, he was the manager at the Arcata Service Center. Having been in these positions, one would hope that he would be considerate and respectful towards people who live outside. But, people who have collaborated with him seem to think otherwise. Kathy Anderson was the coordinator at the Arcata Endeavor from 1988 to 1995 which mainly operated to provide food to hungry people. She was also the director at the Arcata House for a period of time which mainly operated to provide transitional living for people. Kathy has conviction that one is entitled to live their life in any way that one is inspired to do so, and she does not rely on a “middle class standard” as a means to gauge how she should relate to other people. She had the opportunity to work alongside John Shelter as well as participate in community meetings with him. As a result of having relations with the same people, Kathy was able to observe how John Shelter relates to people who live outside or are in low income situations. She described him as not being for the people, as being completely loyal to his sources of funding at the expense of people’s livelihoods, and as being driven by a conquest for power, an attitude of self-importance, and the desire for prestige. While working at the Arcata Service Center he consistently exercised biases against people who drank alcohol or who he found a reason not to like. This discrimination took place through denying these people services such as food, when the only qualification to get food should be whether or not one is hungry. In short, his personal prejudices inhibited people from receiving services when they were in need of services. During the 5 years that Kathy Anderson ran the Endeavor she never had to call the police to resolve disputes among guests. According to her coworker, Verbena, she managed the Endeavor with integrity and respect. She worked with people by “having a program that fit the needs of the people rather than people fitting the needs of the program.” But, when the Arcata Endeavor began to accept federal funding in the form of block grants, and later when John Shelter came into the scene, things began to seriously change. Having worked at the Arcata Endeavor for three and a half years, Verbena witnessed these changes as they began to take place. John Shelter quickly garnered a reputation for relying heavily on police presence to run things. The cops began to come through the Service Center on a day-to-day basis to run warrant checks on people who were trying to get a meal or clean up. The programs became rigidly structured. Everything became computerized and every person who wanted to use services was documented into an electronic database. As the director of the Arcata Service Center, John Shelter began to determine who could be at the Service Center, how people had to behave, he would be inquisitive and intrusive about whether or not people were on drugs or alcohol, he antagonized people, and he consistently called the cops on people for suspecting their behavior to be caused by mental illness or the influence of intoxicants. This disrespectful mentality that the management pushed towards guests was indicative of internalized biases against houseless people and low income people. This lack of respect encouraged guests to have a lack of respect towards the management. The social relations continued to worsen between guests and management, and the Arcata Service Center gradually fell apart. John Shelter continues to operate within this framework of prejudice and discrimination through New Directions. John Shelter’s sick mentality continues to reveal itself through his current actions towards houseless people. These actions include his on-going collaboration with the Eureka Police Department. When New Directions is not merely picking up litter outside of the Bayshore Mall or cleaning up after an event, John Shelter and his co-opted recruits prowl around Eureka looking for tent or tarp situations to dismantle. After an outdoors living situation is scoped out, then the New Directions’ crew will contact the cops if the person is at the site. Depending on the situation, the police may detain and arrest the person who is staying at the site. Otherwise, people are issued a citation rather than being cuffed and taken away. But, what past instances have shown to be constant is that the New Directions’ crew will raid one’s tent or tarps, loot all of their belongings, destroy all of their belongings, and then throw them into a locked dumpster. As someone who works with youth who live outside, I regularly come into contact with people who have some sort of relations with the agency. Earlier this week, a kid who works for New Directions, came into my work to use services. I asked him about the agency and how “camps” are handled and he was pretty forward spoken about the procedure. He straight up described instances in which he has gone out with the rest of the crew to locate places where people camp out. On occasion, he said, the cops handcuff the person who is sleeping outside for “camping”, and then after this person is taken away, New Directions will raid and destroy their possessions at the site.
The Eureka Rescue Mission has a questionable reputation amongst many people who have stayed there, and is loaded with a lot of terrible associations for a lot of people who have spent time there. From personal experience, I would rather sleep outside behind a building rather than going back to the Mission for provisions. I associate the Mission with a man that I met there one night when I was eating dinner. I was new in town and did not really know my way around. It was my first time eating dinner there, and he offered to take me to a better spot to stay for the night after I finished eating, and I went along with it because he came across like a decent person, and because the Mission is incredibly dispiriting. He even said that he did not want to ask me for anything. He told me that it was rare to have someone want to help you without expecting anything in return. We walked across town, stayed at the devil’s playground, and then he molested me. It is difficult to communicate the sensation of powerlessness and helplessness over myself within the situation and within the dynamic with him. I felt sexually violated and like my dignity was completely compromised. I was pretty clueless as to where else I could go, or what to do, or how to handle the situation. It was like I did not take myself to be capable of somehow leaving the situation. We were sleeping in one of the abandoned chambers where timber used to be stacked. He was able to pick up on me being queer, but tried to suggest that I was “like him” through subliminal questions and provoking mind-games inside of my head. He was wearing an ankle brace, I think that he had raped other people before. He tried to create a complex inside of me. I think that it was my second day in Eureka. I am much more familiar with how to handle situations like this now, especially how to handle situations with older men who have special interest. Anyways, that is what comes to mind when I think of the Rescue Mission, and I have consistently heard sleazy memories being elicited with the mention of that place. My friend Jimmy told me about an experience that he had with the Mission. He had one beer earlier in the day, went to the Mission later in the evening to eat and rest, and was then denied access because the light in the breathalyzer falsely indicated that he was intoxicated. One should not be denied access to food and shelter for being under the influence of alcohol. There are many people on the street who have a physical dependency on alcohol. Because of this addiction, they are not able to actively get around, communicate, and do things if they are forced to suddenly stop all alcohol consumption. When one is going through withdrawal from alcohol, and the body is detoxing itself, one is increasingly dysfunctional if they do not have lesser amounts of alcohol to help their body and mind work through the dependency. A girl that I met on the streets in Portland comes to mind. If she did not have a beer by mid-morning, then she would be overwhelmed with nausea, she told me that she can’t stop herself from throwing up when this happens. It is not fair, decent, or reasonable to expect guests at a shelter to immediately conform to a standard of sobriety that they may not be physically or psychologically capable of meeting because of their past levels of alcohol use and because of their current dependency on alcohol to function. The Rescue Mission offers a New Life Discipleship Program, which serves as a “clean and sober” program, but it is not without conditions. Despite one’s belief system, value structure, or spiritual orientation it is required that one must complete a minimum of 600 hours of “structured bible study” by the end of the one year program. One should not have to study the Bible for 600 hours for a temporary residential situation to become sober. The side of the Rescue Mission van that drives around town states in bold lettering “ Rebuilding broken lives, one life at a time.” Similar to the prison system, the faith-based shelter system aims to subdue people into states of obedience, compliance, and powerlessness. This happens through manipulating one’s sense of self worth, compromising one’s integrity, and by convincing one that they are “in the wrong” and that they need to “change their ways.”
When I was staying there, we would refer to the Arcata Night Shelter as The Island. It is on the outskirts of Arcata and the only way that one is meant to come or go is by the van that comes to town at designated times. Most of the time the van driver is the head staff member who I will refer to as the lolly-pop lady. I only stayed at this shelter for around two months, but this was enough time to get insight into the poor decisions she made and the people that were directly affected. The first memory that I have of her was when I boarded the van one afternoon outside of the library. I did not realize that she didn’t notice me inside until she accused me of sneaking on the next morning when she was driving us back into town, told me that she was “at capacity,” and that I should try to get into the Rescue Mission in Eureka instead. I was not willing to stay at the Rescue Mission because of my past experiences and associations. I shared the news with someone who worked at the drop-in that I was going to, they told me I was being discriminated against, and were able to open up a space for me by calling and voicing that suspicion. I was then given intake and accommodations, but during my stay there I saw person-after-person turned away day-after-day. The usual excuse for rejecting people in need was that the shelter was “at capacity”, but the meaning of “capacity” was unspecific. Some afternoons when capacity was asserted, there would be no more than 15 or 16 people. Then, some evenings there would be around 20 to 25 people sharing the space with one another. Capacity was relative to the lolly-pop ladies mood at the time of pick-up. Occasionally, new faces would be allowed to come to The Island. Usually, they would be turned away, with absolutely no help or concern as to what they would do that night or where they could go instead. Not only would people in need be excluded from services, but people in need would also be sporadically kicked out for two weeks. My friend “canary” had been staying at the Night Shelter for three nights, did not have any better alternatives, and did not have any belongings other than the clothing she was wearing. One afternoon, when she was walking to the laundry room to get her bedding and a towel, a host’s son accused her of being on pills once he was out of ear-shot of anyone else. He responded to her frustration at this accusation by phoning the lolly-pop lady. She drove the van back to the shelter several hours later, picked up “canary” despite her wanting to stay, and despite there being nothing to suggest that she had consumed pills, and dropped her off that night somewhere in town. I haven’t seen her since then. A month or so later, a friend of mine was accused of stealing some tobacco from a fellow guest. Despite there being no evidence to prove that he had done this and no legitimate reason to suspect this, he was prohibited from returning to the shelter for two weeks because of this accusation. He did not have anywhere to go, and he did not have sufficient gear to be staying outside. The last time that I saw him was a few days after he had been 86’d when he dropped into my work and told me about what went down.
There needs to be alternative shelter options in Humboldt. There needs to be different policies at the current shelters in Humboldt. There should not be an imperative on sobriety at these shelters that causes people to be denied services. There needs to be enough room to accommodate every person who wants to sleep inside. People should not be denied food for arbitrary reasons. People should not be marginalized for being perceived as mentally ill. People should not be demeaned, reduced, talked down to, or dehumanized by anyone, but especially through agencies that claim to help people in need. People should not have their belongings stolen from them, destroyed, and thrown into a dumpster by agencies that claim to steward the environment. People should not be given citations for sleeping. People should not be searched without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. People should not have to endure acts of violence from the APD and the EPD. People who look poor should not be questioned, handcuffed, and apprehended for no decent reason. People who live outside should not have their lives threatened by hypothermia because they are not allowed a place to stay inside.
Posted in autonomy, California, class war, cold, Eureka Rescue Mission, Eureka, CA, homeless, houseless, human rights, illegality of sleeping ban, landless, northern california, organize, People Project, safe haven, self determination, social justice, updates, veterans, tagged blankets, cooperation, dangerous weather, dignity, emergency, Eureka California, Eureka Rescue Mission, freeze to death, freezing weather, garage space, gate-free space, guidelines, homeless, houseless, PARC, People Project, Peoples' Action for Rights and Community, police brutality, police harrasment, rotating sleeping space, safe sleeping space, safe space, sleeping bags, support, temproary sleeping space, vulnerable community members, warm clothes, welcoming, wet weather, without shelter on February 12, 2013| 2 Comments »
January 14, 2013
This morning, a man staying at the Eureka Rescue Mission (an evangelical Christian shelter unavailable to many] was told by a staff member the following: a young man who the shelter turned away the night before because he didn’t pass the required BREATHALYZER to eat or sleep at the Mission, died in the cold. Froze to death. IT’S TIME, FOLKS. TIME TO RISK YOUR COMFORT ZONE AND SAVE LIVES. WE ARE READY TO ASSIST AS EXPLAINED BELOW. More blankets and sleeping bags need as well. ~Verbena (707)442-7465
EMERGENCY- Freezing weather and people with no shelter.
Cold weather, especially over an extended period of time, takes a heavy toll on the health and well-being of the most vulnerable members in our community.
A few years ago, a small household in Eureka, made its garage available as a safe sleeping space for people with no shelter. The household and a group of friends (many PEOPLE PROJECT folks) organized the space in response to the dangerous weather and police conditions on the street. It was actually quite simple. Prior to opening the safe sleeping space, we discussed how we thought it would work best. One of the things decided beforehand was that we would make the space available for 11 nights (December 21-31), and would be explicit about that time frame, so that people sleeping there could depend on a stable schedule.
At this time, opening your home or some covered space is imperative. We were so grateful for the garage, and all went well. Being only a temporary situation, we are reaching out to you, asking you to open your garage, yard, or big room for whatever time you decide is possible.
We imagine a rotating emergency sleeping space.
We have found that when a community cooperates and shares in the protection of its most vulnerable members, the result is a vital sense of security experienced by all.
The people who shared their garage and those of us who supported and helped coordinate that emergency shelter space are available to talk with you about our experiences. We are eager to assist you in many ways if you are able to open up a sleeping space.
Ways we can assist you include: collecting floor padding, blankets, sleepware, and other necessary warm things (the garage just used had a cement floor); driving folks who need a ride to and from the space; and being present in the sleeping space overnight. The volunteer-run PARC (Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community) in downtown Eureka fully supports the creation of temporary or permanent dignified community sleeping spaces. PARC is available, for any set-up you may provide, as a phone contact, a donation drop-off, and a dedicated resource for people offering or utilizing a safe shelter.
Please Call PARC: (707) 442-7465
People can and do freeze to death in cold or wet or windy weather.. here we have all three at once. And the police continue to harass people and ruin their gear in the rain and cold. Please call and/or email if you want to talk about opening a space up yourself. It is freezing at night, and we can make a way through these hard times together.
Please Call PARC: (707) 442-7465
The following are the guidelines that were posted on the inside of the garage. You may have some different ideas for your place. We believe that emphasizing honor, dignity, and relationship makes for a truly “safe space.”
\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ WELCOME ///////////////////////////
This is a hate-free space. that means…
NO racism, sexism, homophobia, etc
* please no physical or verbal violence
* smaller room is for women only
* bigger room is for all
To protect this safe sleeping space…
– no drinking alcohol or doing drugs (including pot) here
– use lights, not candles
– every night, come through front house door when you first arrive;
then use the front gate to go in/out.
– use bathroom in the house (walk in back door, then to right)
– quiet after 9pm, and during cigarette breaks
You are welcome to sleep here…
– every night through the night of Dec 31st.
– Please come in no earlier than 6pm and no later than 10:30pm
-mornings, out by 9am please
Please do not leave your belongings here,
as no-one is here to protect them
Please communicate theses guide-lines with newcomers
If you need anything, please feel free to ask.
Posted in California, civil liberties, class war, cold, criminalizing, discrimination, gentrification, healthcare, homeless, houseless, human rights, illegality of sleeping ban, landless, People Project, police brutality, poor people, rights, safe haven, updates, veterans, tagged cold weather, deprivation, die from exposure, hate crimes, health care is human right, homeless, homeless persons memorial day, houseless, housing is human right, human right, longest night of the year, police killing, police violence, sleep is human right, systemic oppression, systemic violence, winter solstice, winter weather on December 18, 2012| 3 Comments »
Please honor this day and night appropriately. And remember every other day of the year. Struggle with the People on the Streets!
Longest Night of the Year
Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day
HOMELESS PEOPLE DIE FROM SYSTEMIC VIOLENCE
Homeless people die from illnesses that affect everyone, frequently without health care.
Homeless people die from exposure, unprotected from the heat and cold.
Homeless people die when government policies deprive them of everything.
Homeless people die at the hands of police and civilians in unprovoked hate crimes.
Health care is a human right.
Housing is a human right.
Physical safety is a human right.
Sleep is a human right.
Remember our neighbors and friends who have died without homes.
Remember why they died.
December 21 Winter Solstice. The Extreme of Winter. The Longest Night of the Year.
Posted in California, civil liberties, class war, cold, criminalizing, discrimination, Eureka, CA, gentrification, homeless, houseless, human rights, illegality of sleeping ban, incarceration, landless, murder, northern california, organize, People for a Human Rights Sanctuary, People Project, police brutality, POOR magazine, poor people, Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, protest, racism, rights, sit/lie ordinance, social justice, tent city, updates, veterans, tagged Arcata, audio, call in, capitalism, Cheri Honkala, civil liberties, class war, classism, crimnalization of homeless people, death from cold, deaths on the street, defend homeless people, discrimination, Eel River Cleanup Crew, encampment, eureka, Garberville, Garty Roach, GP Bailey, Haiku, hippies, houseless, human rights, human rights violations, Humboldt County Sheriff's Department, hypocrites, incarcerated for life-sustaining behavior, inhumane treatment, jailed for being homeless, Jim Crow, John Casali, Ken Swithenbank, KMUD radio, know your rights, living in public, living outside, living without shelter, necessities of life, no camping, no sleeping, nomadic, Northern california, police brutality, poverty scholar, prejudice, racism, radio show, recordings, Redway, Redwood Curtain CopWatch, right to exist, right to sleep, Southern Humboldt, state repression, stealing survival gear, Sundown Laws, Tiny Dee Garcia, transient, travellers, Ugly Laws, Verbena, veterans, War on the Poor, Welfare Queens, Where ya gonna go where ther's no po-po?, youth on November 18, 2012| 1 Comment »
Radical Rap is a radio show on KMUD radio that runs the 2nd Wednesday of the month (most months). You can listen live at: http://kmud.org/programs-mainmenu-11/listen-live-kmud
Here is a link to download and hear Radical Rap from Nov. 14, 2012: https://www.box.com/s/m6qi2q41bt3xf9g3fh75
Posted in California, civil liberties, class war, criminalizing, discrimination, gentrification, homeless, houseless, human rights, illegality of sleeping ban, immigration, incarceration, landless, necessity defense, northern california, Oregon, organize, police brutality, poor people, racism, rights, San Francisco, Sisters of the Road, sit/lie ordinance, social justice, updates, veterans, tagged agricultrual workers, anti-Okie law, arrested for sleeping, Broken Windows Theory, Business Improvement Districts, California, civil rights, classism, criminalization, criminalize food sharing, cuts to affordable housing, day of action, dehumanize, disability, Dustbowl immigrants, existing is criminal behavior, grassroots network, Homeless Bill of Rights, human rights, in public view, Jim Crow laws, living in public eye, Mexican Immigrants, migrant, nuisance crimes, Operation Wetback, oregon, police enforcement, policing poverty, poor persons, public spaces, quality of life laws, racism, Rhode Island, segregation, sitting ban, sleeping ban, social justice, sundown towns, target homeless people, Ugly Laws, unconstitutional laws, unsightly, US Canadian Alliance of Inhabitants, Western Regional Advocacy Project, without shleter, WRAP on August 27, 2012| 1 Comment »
This Crow Won’t Fly
The United States has a long history of using mean-spirited and often brutal laws to keep “certain” people out of public spaces and out of public consciousness. Jim Crow laws segregated the South after the Civil War and Sundown Towns forced people to leave town before the sun set. The anti-Okie law of 1930s California forbade poor Dustbowl immigrants from entering the state and Ugly Laws (on the books in Chicago until the 1970s) swept the country and criminalized people with disabilities for allowing themselves to be seen in public.
Today, such laws target mostly homeless people and are commonly called “quality of life” or “nuisance crimes.” They criminalize sleeping, standing, sitting, and even food-sharing. Just like the laws from our past, they deny people their right to exist in local communities.
In June of this year, Rhode Island took a meaningful stand against this criminalization, and passed the first statewide Homeless Bill of Rights in the country. The Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP)—a West Coast grassroots network of homeless people’s organizations—is now launching simultaneous campaigns in California and Oregon. Rhode Island will only be the beginning.
Today’s “quality of life” laws and ordinances have their roots in the broken-windows theory. This theory holds that one poor person in a neighborhood is like a first unrepaired broken window and if the “window” is not immediately fixed or removed, it is a signal that no one cares, disorder will flourish, and the community will go to hell in a handbasket.
For this theory to make sense, you first have to step away from thinking of people, or at least poor people, as human beings. You need to objectify them. You need to see them as dusty broken windows in a vacant building. That is why we now have Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) with police enforcement to keep that neighborhood flourishing by keeping poor, unsightly people out of it.
We have gone from the days where people could be told “you can’t sit at this lunch counter” to “you can’t sit on this sidewalk,” from “don’t let the sun set on you here” to “this public park closes at dusk” and from “you’re on the wrong side of the tracks” to “it is illegal to hang out” on this street or corner.
Unless we organize, it isn’t going to get much better soon. Since 1982, the federal government has cut up to $52 billion a year from affordable housing and pushed hundreds of thousands of people into the shelter system or into the street. Today we continue to have three million people a year without homes. 1982 also marked the beginning of homelessness as a “crime wave” that would consume the efforts of local and state police forces over the next three decades. Millions of people across the country sitting, lying down, hanging out, and — perhaps worst of all – sleeping are cited in crime statistics.
WRAP and our allies recently conducted outreach to over 700 homeless people in 13 cities; we found 77% of people had been arrested, cited, or harassed for sleeping, 75% for loitering, and 73% for sitting on a sidewalk.
We are right back to Jim Crow Laws, Sundown Towns, Ugly Laws and Anti-Okie Laws, local laws that profess to “uphold the locally accepted obligations of civility.” Such laws have always been used by people in power against those on the outside. In other words, today’s Business Improvement Districts and Broken Window Laws are, at their core, a reincarnation of various phases of American history none of us is proud of.
And they reflect a political voice now openly entering the political and media mainstream that dismisses social justice as economically irrelevant and poor people as humanly irrelevant.
This is not about caring for or even advocating for “those people.” This is about all of us. As Aboriginal leader Lilla Watson said, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” If you are not homeless, if you are not the target now, then understand that you are next. Isolated and fragmented, we lose this fight.
But we are no longer isolated and fragmented. On April 1, WRAP and USCAI (US Canadian Alliance of Inhabitants) sponsored a Day of Action in 17 cities. We are one of hundreds of organizations and allies, from Massachusetts to NewYork and from Tennessee to California, all separate but all working together to give meaning to social justice and protect the civil and human rights of all of us.
We can only win this struggle if we use our collective strengths, organizing, outreach, research, public education, artwork, and direct actions. We are continuing to expand our network of organizations and cities and we will ultimately bring down the whole oppressive system of policing poverty and treating poor people as “broken windows” to be discarded and replaced.
To join our campaign for a Homeless Bill of Rights in both California and Oregon contact WRAP at email@example.com and we will hook you up with organizers working in both of these states or others as this movement continues to grow.
This Crow Won’t Fly:
Criminalization Fact Sheet:
Posted in civil liberties, class war, criminalizing, discrimination, gentrification, homeless, houseless, human rights, illegality of sleeping ban, immigration, incarceration, landless, police brutality, poor people, racism, rights, sit/lie ordinance, social justice, tagged agricultrual workers, anti-Okie law, arrested for sleeping, Broken Windows Theory, Business Improvement Districts, California, civil rights, classism, criminalization, criminalize food sharing, day of action, dehumanize, disability, Dustbowl immigrants, existing is criminal behavior, Homeless Bill of Rights, human rights, in public view, Jim Crow laws, Mexican Immigrants, nuisance crimes, Operation Wetback, police enforcement, policing poverty, poor persons, public spaces, quality of life laws, racism, segregation, sitting ban, sleeping ban, social justice, sundown towns, target homeless people, Ugly Laws, unconstitutional laws, unsightly, Western Regional Advocacy Project, WRAP on August 27, 2012| Leave a Comment »
• Anti-Okie Laws
The agricultural workers who migrated to California for work in the 1900s were generally referred to as “Okies”. They were assumed to be from Oklahoma, but they moved to California from other states, as well. The term became derogatory in the 1930s when massive numbers of people migrated West to find work. In 1937, California passed an “anti-Okie” law which made it a misdemeanor to “bring or assist in bringing” extremely poor people into the state. The law was later considered unconstitutional.
• Jim Crow Laws
After the American Civil War (1861-1865), most Southern states passed laws denying black people basic human rights. Later, many border states followed suit. These laws became known as Jim Crow laws after the name of a popular black-face character that would sing songs like “Jump Jim Crow.” In California, Jim Crow played out against Chinese immigrants more than black people. From 1866-1947, Chinese residents of San Francisco were forced to live in one area of the city. The same segregation laws prohibited inter-racial marriage between Chinese and non-Chinese persons and educational and employment laws were also enforced in the city. African and Indian children had to attend separate schools from those of white children. In 1879, the California constitution read that no Chinese people could vote and the law was not repealed until 1926. Oregon and Idaho had similar provisions in their constitutions. In 1891, a referendum required all Chinese people to carry a “certification of residence” card or face arrest and jail. In 1909, the Japanese were added to the list of people who were prohibited by law from marrying white people. In 1913, “Alien Land Laws” were passed that prohibited any Asian people from owning or leasing property. The law was not struck down by the California Supreme Court until 1952.
• Ugly Laws
From the 1860s to the 1970s, several American cities had laws that made it illegal for people with “unsightly or disgusting” disabilities to appear in public. Some of these laws were called “unsightly beggar ordinances”. The first ordinance was in San Francisco in 1867, but the most commonly cited law was from Chicago. Chicago Municipal Code section 36034 stated: “No person who is diseased, maimed, mutilated or in any way deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object or improper person to be allowed in or on the public ways or other public places in this city, or shall therein or thereon expose himself to public view, under a penalty of not less than one dollar nor more than fifty dollars for each offense.”
• Operation Wetback
Operation Wetback began in 1954 in California and Arizona as an effort to remove all illegal, Mexican immigrants from the Southwestern states. The Operation was by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and coordinated 1,075 border control agents along with state and local police agencies. The agents went house-to-house looking for Mexicans and performed citizenship checks during traffic stops. They would stop any “Mexican-looking” person on the street and insist on seeing identification. Operation Wetback was only abandoned after a large outcry from opponents in both the United States and Mexico.
• Sundown Towns
Sundown Towns did not allow people who were considered “minorities” to remain in the town after the sun set. Some towns posted signs at their borders specifically telling people of color to not let the sun set on them while in the town. There were town policies and real estate covenants in place to support the racism, which was enforced by local police officers. Sundown Towns existed throughout the United States and there were thousands of them before the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibited racial discrimination in housing practices. Sundown Towns simply did not want certain ethnic groups to stay in their towns at night. If undesired people were to wander into a Sundown Town after the sun had set, they would be subject to any form of punishment from harassment to lynching. While the state of Illinois had the highest number of Sundown Towns, they were a national phenomenon that mostly targeted anyone of African, Chinese, and Jewish heritage.
• Today…… Broken Windows Laws Current “Quality of Life” laws also take a certain population into account: homeless persons. Using these laws, people are criminalized for simply walking, standing, sleeping, and other regular human behaviors. In other words, they are penalized and harassed simply because of who they are. Just as with Jim Crow, Ugly Laws, Anti-Okie Laws, and Operation Wetback, how people look and their very existence is the basis for charging them with criminal behaviors.
This Crow Won’t Fly:
Criminalization Fact Sheet:
END THE WAR ON THE POOR
DO WE REALLY HAVE A CHOICE?!
Won’t U Read the Signs?!
December 21, HOMELESS MEMORIAL DAY/NIGHT
FOOD NOT BOMBS , EUREKAEvery Sunday at Clarke Plaza, Old Town (3rd and E). Yummy vegetarian food about 3:00pm.
We Need Some SAFE GROUNDSee this youtube video from the 32 night Safe Sleep Space we set up in the Eureka City Hall parking lot.
Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed. --Herman Melville
...the law in its majestic equality forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. --Anatole France
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Cool Quote"The philosophy of the welfare system is to make it as difficult and shameful as possible to get assistance and to give the bare minimum." --Frank Z