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Posts Tagged ‘Kathy Anderson’

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.

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Kathy Anderson of People For A Human Rights Sanctuary

a tent is affordable housing

Eureka City Council Mtg.
Sept. 21, 2010

Dear Council members:

Article 1: Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.  They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

As a council that has publicly stated that you, therefore Eureka, supports The Universal Declaration of Human Rights I need to ask you how the conscience of the city can continue using decades old attempts to “handle” the homeless problem that have failed.  You have sunk millions of dollars into sheltering, policing and jailing people yet homelessness is on the rise.

20+ years ago and most every year since, you’ve had homeless activists/advocates talk to you about a campground and you always refuse.  Then John Shelter comes to you with his New Directions Program that you funded.  According to the program description, once John OK’s people to camp, they need not worry about becoming a criminal with a camping violation.

Last week a couple who lives in the marsh with an agreement between them and John was violated by a police officer who threatened to arrest this couple for trespassing and “maintaining a public nuisance”. 
Can you imagine having an officer come to where you live telling you that you must leave by tomorrow or you’ll go to jail?  Does that sound dignified?  The officer (M.Harpham) also added insult to the threat and cut the ropes to their tarp and destroyed the door that keeps out the rain.  I’ve taken many complaints from people in my neighborhood who have had the cops slash and otherwise destroy their belongings. 

Where do homeless people go to when their agreements with the New Directions Program have been violated?  Are you still employing New Directions, if not, when are you going to tell the public?

For more than 20 years you’ve been told of the necessity for a campground set up to provide basic sheltering and sanitation for those in housing poverty.  We’ve told you that housing for every income need must be supplied to our communities or suffer with homelessness indefinitely.  Today we have a saturated rental market because those who used to own are renting and those who rented are homeless because the owners were foreclosed upon and no low income housing is slated to be built this year.  So where are people living?  In the forests and the bushes along the bay and you have hired the police to take care of our housing shortage by criminalizing people in poverty and despair!

The welfare department recognizes that people need tents and sleeping bags and will refer people to Saint Vinnie’s for free ones if they have some donations.  There are hundreds of others who have voiced their approval of a campground and who would volunteer to set up and support when they are needed.

I ask that the city work out a way to secure “common space” for people without housing to set up camp as transitional housing until the housing needs of the area become stabilized.  Please don’t look to professionals to quantify needs, homeless people and activists are far more logical and realistic than are those who have financial interest in these things.

Sincerely,
K. Anderson

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Today, September 22, 2010, I was called by Maria within the hour after I helped them relocate to a new camp spot telling me that the cops were “raiding” again and she was afraid. After calling Verbena to report the raid I went to the marsh and walked with James, Maria and dogs, down to where the patrol cars (2) were. We spoke with Murl Harpham and an unknown officer. I asked Harpham why he threatened to arrest this couple when they had an agreement with John Shelter. He said because it is illegal to camp here. I asked why did the city give $20,000 to New Directions, and he said it was so that John Shelter could teach people how to camp respectfully and clean up the marsh. I asked why the city would pay John $20,000 to teach campers how to camp if camping is illegal. Officer Harpham then told me that he would have to tell John to stop doing that. My understanding of what he was saying is that EPD has jurisdiction and therefore what New Directions was hired to do is ineffectual to the “campers” and a waste of money to the city.

We need and must provide a Human Rights Sanctuary to give relief to people like Maria who worry everyday about her belongings and staying out of the rain.

We need quiet retreats where the mind can heal from too much noise and too many people.

We need a few acres in the woods where a garden can flourish from the care of hands that once were in handcuffs.

We need jobs available to people who can sculpt and build fascinating driftwood benches and art made of recycled materials found in the marsh along the path that will be built from a million dollar grant that was just awarded to the city of Eureka. I’ll bet we could get more grant money to employ people who would live and work in the marsh while building the trail. It could be fashioned into a project like what The Conservation Corps did during the Great Depression.

We need the cops to leave people alone.

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from Redwood Curtain CopWatch

WHY WE PROTESTED AT THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

On Thursday, April 8, 2010, fifteen to twenty community members gathered in the reception area of the District Attorney’s office, fourth floor of the courthouse, to address Paul Gallegos regarding a recent incident and the systematic injustice related to that and many other instances.  As you may remember, on March 15th of this year, two people from Redwood Curtain CopWatch were arrested because Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Marsh did not want to be videotaped while he was detaining and searching a man in Eureka.

On April 6, 2010, the two of us who were arrested learned that the DA had not (yet) charged us with any crime related to our arrests.  After we were arrested and in jail, we signed Agreements to Appear in court on April 6th.  When signing an Agreement to Appear, the document informs the signer that if s/he does not appear on that date, s/he can be arrested again.

On April 6, we were not on the court schedule, which means the DA had not yet decided what charges or if he would charge us at all.

We called the DA’s office many times over a 3 week period, emailed him, and had personally delivered a letter regarding the bunk arrest and the holding of our copwatch cameras.  Because Paul Gallegos’ campaign manager received the (open) letter through an email list and contacted Paul Gallegos with concerns about our cameras, he apparently made a call to the Sheriff’s Department so that the cameras would be returned. Gallegos’ campaign manager called us at the end of the business day on Wednesday, April 7th; but when Kim Starr went down to the Sheriff’s Dept., it was too late to retrieve the cameras.

The next morning, we went and got the cameras and the video footage we had recorded with them- prior to and during our bogus arrests.  When we called the DA’s office for the umpteenth time and asked if we had been charged with anything, we were told the case was still “pending.”  Later that afternoon, 15-20 community members were at the DA’s office to insist that the DA officially decline to charge the copwatchers who had been arrested. 

Here is a link  to the flier we delivered: http://www.box.net/shared/90vvzi9osj.  The flier text is also HERE (click here).

WHY WE WERE ARRESTED AT THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

While we were at the office from about 2pm on, we made clear that we wanted to speak to DA Paul Gallegos.  We said we wanted justice.  Gallegos never showed.  About 10 minutes before the office would close for the day, one of the DA’s investigators, James Dawson, walked through the group and, out of anger, shoved our friend’s trumpet into his lips and then laid his hands on Kim Starr.  Within about 7 minutes after the assaults by Dawson, a bunch of Sheriff’s Deputies congregated in the DA’s office and arrested each of us who were still there- five of us, and cited our friend with the trumpet.  This is how the system functions when there is abuse by state officers.  If a cop or other government agent hurts a person, that person will soon be criminalized, charged with a crime, forced to defend her/himself in court. Now it is up to the DA to decide if he will charge the six of us who were exercising our Constitutional rights to protest  (“redress grievances”) at his office.  Unfortunately, Gallegos is always willing to corroborate a cover-up for ‘his’ officers.  Let’s make sure that does not happen.

There are specific injustices that this whole situation has highlighted.  We will be talking about them, and taking action.

Targeting of CopWatch or ANYONE who stops to observe and videotape police activity.

–Deprivation of due process rights through the systematic setup of what we’re calling “floating charges”– wherein a person must sign a promise to appear on a specific date, charges are not filed by that date, and the next thing s/he knows, there is a warrant for her/his arrest! 

Filing of criminal charges against a person who has been abused by an officer BECAUSE s/he has been abused– in order to coverup for the officer’s actions and distract the person who has been mistreated by putting them on the defensive. 

-Unnecessary and violent escalation of situations by police.  “There’s no situation which the presence of an officer can’t make worse.”

 

**April 8th and 9th were called as West Coast Days of Action Against Police Killings and Police Brutality.  From Seattle to Los Angeles, people were participating in acts of resistance to the SYSTEM THAT SANCTIONS MURDER AND ABUSE BY THE POLICE.  We stand in solidarity with those actions.**

 

Below is a REPORTBACK from Kathy Anderson, one of the people arrested at the DA’s office. Video from the arrest of CopWatchers and from our action at the DA’s office coming soon. 

Here is a link (http://www.box.net/shared/mo1um8i4tm) to the letter sent today again insisting that no charges be filed against the copwatchers related to the arrests in March while we were legally observing and videotaping the cops.

REPORTBACK FROM KATHY ANDERSON
Yesterday, April 8, 2010 I (Kathy Anderson) joined a group of people to talk to the DA about dropping floating charges on a couple of CopWatchers who were illegally arrested and cameras confiscated.  The cameras were returned yesterday morning but the charges have yet to be filed.
Since this was an illegal arrest all charges should have been dropped.  The DA “floats” charges to have time to gather more evidence to build up weak charges.  It could be March of 2011 before charges are filed and notice is NOT given to the now defendant, just a warrant issued and then you are surprised by a second arrest.  This is not honoring the constitutional right to a “fair and speedy trial” and I felt it necessary, in the spirit of justice to make the point that COPWATCH is an honorable service to the community and deserves respect and the assurance of protection from violent police.

After making our presence known for 2 hours an officer with the DA’s office entered the lobby, shoved a trumpet against the mouth of Carrington, leaving a welt on his upper and bottom lip and chipping his tooth, and walking up to Verbena, grabbing her wrist with his hand.  As I was taping this violent action by a “mature” and seasoned officer at one point it seemed as if he was going to attack Verbena again.  Not one person in the office came to Verbena’s or Carrington’s aid.

This pillar of society in Humboldt County, The District Attorney’s Office, has failed to train it’s employees to have self-control and treat people with dignity and respect.

There is a poster in the DA’s lobby saying that the DA’s office is committed to serving crime victims with respect and dignity, yet has failed to do so when someone is assaulted in his own office!
We made it very clear that injuries had occurred.  The DA’s office responded by arresting 5 of us, not Carrington, he was cited on the spot.

This does not come as a surprise to me.  In my lifetime I’ve seen and met people who have been horribly abused by police officers and other officers of the court.  I’ve known people who’ve been killed by police and families who have been destroyed by police who are protected by “The Blue Shield”.  It goes on and on with no end in sight and I’m not going to be quiet about this perversion of duty.

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