Friday, March 6, 2015

Homelessness: Some Police Officers are Henchmen, and What About the People Making the "Rules"?

"If you have life, you have purpose." Caroline Myss

This was a post that caught my attention:

"I’m sorry, but I have to get this off of my chest. My heart breaks after seeing this video.

After seeing this video, my views on America have been reaffirmed. 6 police officers are unable to restrain one homeless person with a mental disability and shoot him in cold blood. This is murder.

America’s history is murder. America’s history is imperialism. America’s history is savagery. All citizens are held hostage to the police, and countries around the world are held hostage by the military.

The 1033 program and other corporate initiatives that have militarized the police, in addition to the general subhuman nature of violent cops does two things: (1) It ruins the image of good, hardworking cops and (2) destroys the trust between the people and those we have delegated powers to protect us. They stopped protecting us a long time ago.

You cannot convince me that this country has one more year left before civil war breaks out. The people have had enough. This whole thing is orchestrated courtesy of the American fascist government and its shareholders in the Open Society, Goldman Sachs and other racketeers of global dictatorship.

It is also the product of Natural Law: how you begin something is the same way that you finish it. If your government comes about from slavery, jingoism, and elitist cruelty, then that’s the way it’s gonna finish. The big fish eating the little fish. Unless something fundamentally changes within the nature and hearts of Americans, you can forget about your elections next year."

(Hanuel Na'avi - is one of the founders, writers, and radio hosts for the blog “The Last Defense”. He has studied his BA and MA in English Literature, and while living in China and South Korea for the last six years, he briefly studied Middle East and African Politics at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, South Korea, and Chinese at Fudan University in Shanghai, China.)

"Africa" was one of many homeless people in the U.S.A.:

The video Na'avi is referring to is the recent brutal killing of a homeless man, known to friends by his street name "Africa", by LAPD police officers. Africa's real name hasn't yet been released pending notification of family of his death. But he has a name, as do all of the homeless people.

An excerpt from Names of the Homeless blogspot:

"Names Of The Homeless exists to promote and publish the stories of the people who live on the streets. These are people who once had hopes and dreams much like yourself... until something happened. They made a bad decision, they got caught up in drugs or alcohol, they could never get past that gambling addiction, or life just dealt them a bad hand.

Some of them have college educations; some have lost their white-collar jobs; some were never able to recover after the death of a loved one. There are homeless people who are truly lazy, and others who have rejected any place in regular society because they would rather shirk responsibility, but that doesn't mean they are any less worthy of common respect or decency. Even the lazy ones have interesting things to say. The Homeless are people with names and stories just like everyone else; Names Of The Homeless is here to share them with the world."

Africa has a life story, too.

So many things are horrifying in watching the police shooting Africa; yet the LAPD says nothing about being sorry for his death. We've just seen excuses. If 6 officers were on hand to subdue an unarmed homeless man, then why did the one officer keep repeating, "Get off my gun!" but we never see him back away? Clearly, that was an available option of behavior the officer didn't choose.

The U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported in December 2014 a Point-in-Time estimate of the numbers of homeless people on a given night in January 2014 was approximately 578,424. Further, HUD reports a 71% increase, of surveyed cities, for people needing emergency food assistance.

With 62% of all Americans living paycheck to paycheck, almost anyone can become homeless; even families with children. Child homelessness is the highest in the states of Alabama, Mississippi, and California; and about one out of 30, or 2.5 million children were homeless in the U.S. at some point in 2013. Although some people are employed, low wages make it difficult to pay for the high cost of rent.

Other facts regarding the homeless are that 40% are male veterans, although veterans comprise only 34% of the general male population. The National Coalition for the Homeless reports homeless veterans include women; and veterans with disabilities including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are likely to become homeless. A higher number of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq having these characteristics. The majority of single veterans come from poor, disadvantaged communities; 45% suffer from mental illness and 50% have substance abuse problems.

No doubt, some will not want to even consider what Russell Brand is saying, but Brand is observant, often the "Lampooner", and some of his messages in the following YouTube video include:
  • "...there are sections of societies or members of human community whose life doesn't have is endemic and indicative of a much broader problem..."
  • "The police that enforce that society have to clear up the 'human detritus'...and every so often that becomes unbearable..."
  • "...In America there are 600,000 homeless people on any given night...I find that particularly galling... [Brand says it's no different in Britain re a 'whooped-up fervor' (towards war, and movies like 'American Sniper')]...once people have been spent through military service they are meaningless...there's no meaningful ongoing programs to take care of them". If there were, you wouldn't see about 48,000 people (in 2013) that fought in Iraq and Afghanistan on the streets..."You support your troops."
  • More shocking statistics...more people have been killed by police in America than troops killed abroad in the Iraq war...and "Americans are eight times more likely to be killed by a local police officer than a terrorist..."

Criminalizing homeless people:

City councilor, Cameron Runyan, of Columbia, South Carolina said they've had a homeless problem that has "plagued us a generation and a half at least". He voted with the rest of the council to create a "stop-gap" measure giving homeless people an option to relocate or be arrested. Relocation meant shuttling homeless people to an off-site 240-bed shelter guarded by police. The shelter isn't even large enough for the numbers in need. People wouldn't be able to leave without a permit and need to use the shuttle bus to get back into town. John Celock of Huffington Post said. "... Let's look at the root cause of homelessness, not criminalize the fact someone doesn't have a home, doesn't have money..."; and he also questioned if this is really a shelter or prison for the homeless.

The Huffington Post further reported on the city of Tampa, Florida also criminalizing the homeless. Critics of the laws against homeless people included Amanda Mole, editor of the Tampa Epoch; Ola Abiose, student at Washington University, St. Louis; and Benjamin Waxman, volunteer attorney for the Miami ACLU.

Aloise said the key issue is de-humanizing the homeless when we need to look at the solutions - are they motivated by compassion or stigmatizing people? Aloise pointed out the result of punitive actions against homeless people is a criminal record which is not advantageous for anyone seeking a job, and it's condescending.

Mole says the laws against homeless people are not preventative measures; there are no jobs available paying a sustainable living wage. Mole also noted that most people in the community appear to want the ordinance, but are uneducated about the causes of homelessness; people cannot pay rent with a minimum wage job. Further, the costs to taxpayers are about $50/day to incarcerate a homeless person; and $6.6 million a year has been paid by Hillsborough County alone.

According to attorney Waxman, as an example, the city of Miami was targeting homeless people, and making trumped-up charges, for which the people would be re-cycled through the system once charges were dismissed by the prosecutors. The ACLU was successful in filing a class action lawsuit on behalf of the homeless people because they were being arrested for such things as sleeping in public, being in the park after curfew, eating on the sidewalk, obstructing the sidewalk, loitering, prowling - "nuisance misdemeanor ordinances".

Criminalizing people for feeding the homeless people: 

A 90-year old man, Arnold Abbott, who has run Love Thy Neighbor since 1991, a charity feeding homeless people, was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida along with pastor Dwayne Black, and priest, Mark Sims. An ordinance was passed October 22, 2014 by the City Commission making it a crime to feed homeless people (fines are $500 and up to 60 days in jail). Abbott said the police couldn't stop him, and Abbott was arrested multiple times. Mayor Jack Seiler said feeding homeless people keeps them in a cycle on the street and is not productive.

“I know that I will be arrested again, and I am prepared for that. I am my brother’s keeper, and what they are doing is just heartless,” said Abbott.

The "hacktivist" group called Anonymous shut down Ft. Lauderdale's website after threatening to do so if the feeding of the homeless people ban was not lifted.

The ban has not been lifted. And Mayor Seiler won his re-election in February (with 3% turn-out).

The five ways America is abusing the homeless through local government ordinances:
  • sit/lie bans, bans on storing stuff in public
  • anti-panhandling measures
  • crimes against feeding a hungry person
  • emergency homeless response (such as Columbia, South Carolina's method above; additionally, people may be banned from downtown, and in some cities police patrol for the homeless and set-up hot lines for people to report the homeless to the police
  • police picking up homeless people, and dropping them off in locations far away
The hot lines sound like the Department of Homeland Security's campaign "If You See Something, Say Something". What is happening in our country - we're expected to report to police on homeless people so they can be kidnapped and left somewhere else, essentially disposed of? Even elementary school children have more compassion and are asking, "But where will they go?"

Apparently, Detroit police officers have been picking up homeless people, taking them far outside of the city, dumping them in unfamiliar places (sometimes in the middle of the night), and some officers are taking money the person has on them, leaving the homeless absolutely penniless and stranded.

"How the Homeless are Treated in Canada vs. America (Social Experiment)":

"They Gave a Homeless Man a Pizza What He Did With It Broke Me Down":

Some solutions:

Recall those CDBG funds? HUD began the Community Development Block Grants in 1974 to help those at poverty or moderate income levels, to provide affordable housing, clean-up blight, and to address urgent health and safety needs in communities ("Prisons for Profits, and Kids for Cash", February 23, 2015).

As Rep.Tom McClintock, California said, the CDBG Program has degenerated into a $3.4 billion slush fund; it's a program replete with dubious projects which benefit private businesses, waste, and fraud. McClintock says there are cases where six figure amounts have made it into the pockets of those conning the system, and over 150 applications were falsified in an attempt to receive grants. Some of the money has gone to such things as a doggy day-care business, and renovating Victorian cottages.

These CDBG funds were meant to address the very issues we're seeing now and for helping the homeless people. Communities not applying for CDBG funds to create affordable housing and programs to benefit the homeless and poor are contributing to the homelessness issues. CDBG funds are not meant to fund private businesses. Therefore, any of those in local government agreeing to funnel money into private businesses including dubious projects such as a doggy day-care business are turning their backs on human beings either willfully or through ignorance.

The Rule-makers and their enforcers:

The patterns in history remain; the fact so many of our local communities have leaders making the "rules", including criminalizing homeless people and those wanting to feed them, is indicative of a downward slide and a loss of humanity. The most basics needs we have as human beings are for food, shelter, and safety which are being willfully denied by those who have the power to act with compassion when making laws.

This writer also doesn't buy into the excuses leaders sometimes make about the homeless: that communities don't have the money to help the homeless, and that publicly feeding homeless people could make them sick from food-borne illnesses.

Further, you'll also see no buy-in by this writer that community leaders and police are just doing their jobs and they need a paycheck; a means of livelihood to support their families. Anyone in a job in which they're expected to behave unethically and in ways they know is wrong always has a choice, including a choice to pick up their bed and move on.

"There is no such thing as a simple act of compassion or an inconsequential act of service. Everything we do for another person has infinite consequences."

Caroline Myss

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Comments are appreciated. We can agree to disagree; ideas are welcomed, but name-calling isn't. "I don't care what car you drive, where you live. If you know someone who knows someone who knows someone. If your clothes are this years' cutting edge. If your trust fund is unlimited. If you are A-list, B-list or never heard of you list. I only care about the words that flutter from your mind. They are the only thing you truly own..." Chris Duane.