Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Became Homeless By Helping A Rape Victim

I rarely blog about my personal situation; but, this is one such occasion. In the six years since I began blogging, I've written about how my birth parents fractured my skull when I was eight months old, how I spent five years as an only child in a foster home and how I was adopted by a Polish man and an Italian woman who bore seven children and adopted 30 including myself. One brother has passed away. I've also written about a disagreement that led to me not speaking to my mother from April 1998 until August 2009.

I haven't blogged in the past about a girlfriend who passed away on August 11th, 1994 after we'd been together for four years and who would've celebrated a birthday on September 19th if she were living. I guess you can say that I've had a rough life; but, I'm not one to cower in a corner with my head in my hands or to wallow in pity. That truth about me is the impetus for this post; because, my propensity for moving quickly toward solutions has not always been well-received.

When I do talk about how I became homeless, it's usually part of a larger conversation or speech and I tend to give scant details so as to move quickly back to the larger conversation. I often tell high school, college and university students, “I worked at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida from May 1988 to February 1994. [Gory job description which includes incinerating amputated body parts] I had a falling out with my boss and walked off of the job on Valentine's Day 1994 which was the day before my 25th birthday. I got my last check soon thereafter, went back to New Jersey, spent my money on a hotel and ended up at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission at 2009 Bacharach Boulevard.

I'll begin the story of how I became homeless by first taking you back to October 1988. I'd been working at Shands Hospital for five months when Lynn Carese Allen (October 26th, 1969 to present) began working there in the same month as her 19th birthday. (Prior to that, I'd been the youngest of 4,500 employees.) She worked for the hospital's contract security firm, Globe Security. We became very good friends. Lynn left a year later and returned in 1990. Shands had developed in-house security by that time and she began to work the information desk, as opposed to her former duty guarding the entrance to the emergency room – the post where I initially met her.

Lynn worked evenings from 3 to 11:30 PM. I worked the night shift for all of my six years there (and pulled many double shifts) starting at 10 or 11 PM and getting off at 6:30 or 7:30 AM – with my schedule having been subject to that slight change based on a number of circumstances. I would often clock in, see how much there was to do, work for 30 to 45 minutes and then go speak with Lynn for 30 to 45 minutes. I was so good at my job that I could do everything in five hours or so and take three hours of break per night. On my off nights, my relief could work the whole eight hours with a half hour lunch and still not get everything done. My supervisor knew how much break I took but didn't mind due to me finishing everything and being willing to work through my regular breaks and skip lunch on hectic nights. This gave me plenty of time to spend with Lynn.

She and I would talk about a wide range of things, rap together and just have an all-around good time on the clock. I would often walk her to her car. I was a tractor driver. The vehicle was a Taylor-Dunn tractor (essentially a forkless forklift) with trailers behind it. It was similar to the small trains used to load luggage on airplanes. In the 1990's Shands, along with other connected buildings, was part of the second largest continuous building in the country when you measure the floor space, surpassed only by the Pentagon. It might be number one at this point. Due to the building's sheer size, the tractor drivers would drive in new supplies and clean linen and drive out trash and dirty linen. We'd incinerate red-bag trash, compact white-bag trash, bail cardboard and put large trash in the dumpster. I often had to ask Lynn to call her fellow security personnel to open hospital Stores (the warehouse on the west end of the building near the loading dock) so that I could get a tractor off of charge and put the one with a low battery on charge. That gave me a way out if one of her superiors might ever accuse her of goofing off.

In the summer of 1993 I noticed awkward behavior on Lynn's part. She was out of work for a couple of weeks. Another woman named Maxine Mingo who also worked at the information desk and was 51 in 1993 was both a good friend of mine and a mother figure to Lynn. Maxine told me that Lynn was in a hospital – not Shands – and didn't want visitors. I wouldn't see Lynn until she returned to work and she refused to talk about why she was hospitalized. I took it in stride until addition strange behavior began to occur a few months later.

This was around the time that Michael Jackson was being dragged through the courts for possible child molestation and the Menendez brothers were on trial for killing their parents. When I went to visit with Lynn on various occasions, she would often have a newspaper on the lower inside level of the information desk. I would often reach over and grab it. But when there was an article about either of these stories, she would place the paper on the upper level of the desk and have it turned to the page where the story was. It had the intended effect. We talked about both stories and I explained that I thought Michael was guilty and that the Menendez brothers had indeed been abused by their father – sexually and otherwise. She smiled broadly both times. I would realize some time later that it had been a test to see if I would be sensitive to her feelings about what she'd been through.

Lynn drove a brick red Nissan Lynx that was always breaking down. I've been present on numerous occasions when she would call her brother who would not answer his phone and ask for a ride home. She would then give a sigh of disgust before dialing her step father Jasper Peacock who would always answer immediately. I vaguely recall having asked Lynn why she didn't just call Jasper to begin with. I don't recall having ever gotten an answer. On one extremely awkward occasion in late '93 or early '94 I heard her speaking very seductively to Jasper. She repeatedly called his name in a higher-than-usual, seductive manner. (I'd never actually met Lynn off of the job and didn't know before this point that Jasper was her step father.) When she got off of the phone, I asked her, “Who was that, your boyfriend?”. She said nothing. I asked at least two more times. Finally, she snapped at me as she said, “That's my father!” That's when it all came together.

I realized that she'd been throwing hints for several months – some intentionally and some unintentionally – as to what she was going through. I could've kicked myself for having not realized it sooner. I made attempts to get her to open up and tell me in no uncertain terms what was going on. I went out to the hospital during my off time to check on her. She lived in Micanopy, Florida which is about 16 miles south of Gainesville. Since the city bus didn't go that far, I began walking. I got about halfway there and someone who knew the family picked me up and drove me to the house. Lynn's mother was raking and burning leaves. I had an uneventful conversation with her for about five minutes and went back to Gainesville. I visited the Gainesville police who told me that they couldn't help if she wouldn't open up. I went to a domestic violence assistance center on Waldo Road in Gainesville. They said the same. I called the Marion County sheriff's office where Micanopy and Ocala are located. Same.

I continued to try to get my friend of over five years to tell me enough so that I could help her. Eventually my supervisor named William Maxwell approached me and said that he was receiving complaints of me harassing Lynn. I explained the matter to him. He seemed to understand and wasn't upset. I, on the other hand, was highly insulted that anyone could even form their lips to imply that I was harassing or otherwise violating a woman. I ended up abandoning that job. I got my last check and went back to New Jersey. When the money ran out, I became homeless.

Shortly after becoming homeless, I began to ask myself why bad things happen to good people. I resumed a thought process that I'd begun about five years earlier whereby I'd begun to reflect on the friction that existed between my mother and I during my childhood. I'd determined that my propensity for objective, difficult rationale that often revolves around grim realities and absolute truths was at odds with her sensitivities that caused her to sometimes want to believe something even if it didn't make sense. I also reflected on at least one thing that I'd said to Lynn that may have sent up the red flag in her mind and caused her to change her mind about confiding in me – even before I figured out what she'd been going through or the drama that followed. In any instance, I left that period of deep thought having accepted that I have an affinity for rationale and not one for being sensitive or emotional. I decided to cease and desist from earlier efforts to seem sensitive and just be the rational man that I am. As a point of clarity, I should say that I do indeed feel. Here are my personal connotations of three words with similar definitions:

1 – Feeling: An individualized phenomenon whereby a person gets a sensation in their gut (and possibly other body parts) as a result of something they hear and/or otherwise sense (often through a non-contact experience). It can accompany an intense thought or desire.

2 – Sensitivity: A collective (often societal) way of thinking about an issue such as proper treatment of women by men including the idea that rape is wrong. (Some countries either actively or passively condone rape.) Sensitivity is generally not required to make sense, though it occasionally and coincidentally overlaps with rationale. Most often it is either considered apart from rationale or in direct conflict with it.

3 – Emotion: An individualized and situation-based way of thinking whereby a person is either extremely excited or upset about a recent occurrence. During upsetting incidents, emotion is often marked by a sense of uncertainty as to how to solve the problem and by extreme indecisiveness.

Once again, I do feel; but, I'm not sensitive or emotional.

Even to this day, as I reflect on the situation between Lynn and I, it only seems to make sense that I wanted to get her out of the bad situation that I believed her to have been in. Though the matter was never proven one way or the other, I firmly believe that I guessed right -- that her step father was repeatedly raping her. Over the years that followed I would run across writings and people who would say that a man often offends a woman (often his wife or girlfriend) by interrupting her emotional expression of an experience in order to present a solution. I remembered a showing of Oprah in the early 90's where she and a female psychologist advised wives to gently cover the husband's mouth and to say, “Don't solve it; just listen”. That idea didn't set well with me then and it still doesn't. In the late 90's I ran across a Jehovah's Witness publication that carried the same basic message.

I worked many low-wage jobs from 1994 until 2005. I been a farm hand for cabbage, tobacco, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, watermelon and onions. I've worked at many labor halls. I've landed several jobs by working well out of the labor hall. I've gotten out of homelessness several times and I've fallen back in. If I were to write a book (which my current blog posts add up to anyway), I could show that other people's dislike of my insensitive rationale has contributed to them “pushing me out” of multiple jobs and back into homelessness.

I found myself homeless and working at a labor hall in Gainesville, Florida in the summer of 2005. A fellow worker and I spoke about the Iraq War while we waited for assignments. With me having already believed that the war was based on lies, he told me about the Downing Street Memo and Bilderberg. I made it my business to come to Washington, DC and speak out against Bush 43 and the Iraq War. I arrived around 10:30 PM on July 31st and partook in my first protest on September 24th, 2005. In June 2006 I began advocating for the homeless.

These days, I post many of my thoughts on Facebook and in my blog, having learned to do in e-mail in November 2006, having begun a Facebook account and this blog in 2008. That said, there is a lot of on-line “talk” about Ray Rice hitting his fiancee who later married him and about Adrian Peterson abusing his 4-year old son. Both are personal for me – the former due to me having helped multiple female victims (not all mentioned here) and the latter due to me having been nearly killed by my birth parents. I've portrayed the Peterson child as a complete victim and Janay Rice as a partial victim. The sensitive camp (including men) has gotten upset with me for the latter. Come to think of it, I've bumped heads with more than one person over the years due to my tendency to assign blame in what I believe to be a fair and rational manner. I dare not assume that the woman is always completely innocent when she and a man have an argument that turns violent. I pay dearly for being fair. No good deed goes unpunished.

In the late 90's I was living in Orlando and spent much of that time at the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, a shelter which was located at 639 Central Blvd at that time. I've been told that it has relocated and is now directed by an acquaintance of mine that I met in DC, Donald Whitehead. Early one morning I was walking down Church Street toward an Asian store/restaurant named “Lucy's” where I would often buy breakfast.

I saw a woman on the ground, a man hitting her and others standing around and shouting. The man's friends pulled him off and the men began to walk away. I saw that the assailant was a man whom I'd spoken to on numerous occasions but whose name I'd never learned. I'd always known him to be easy-going. As the woman got up, I saw that it was someone affectionately known as Pocahontas, though I never learned whether it was her given name or a street name. She was known to be ghetto.

Pocahontas went back at the man. He knocked her down again and hit her a few times before his friends pulled him off. He and th friends told her to just go away as the men tried again to walk away. She got back up, broke a glass bottle that was lying on the sidewalk and charged at the man again. This time he knocked her down, put her leg in a figure-4 and hurt her so badly that she couldn't get up again and she let out several long screams. The ambulance was called.

The police also came. Before they got there, I told someone that I'd always known the man to be quite calm and friendly. I asked why they were “fighting” (if you want to call it that). This spectator explained that the man had given Pocahontas money with the expectation of getting sex. She had played him (all views on prostitution aside, for now). He verbally confronted her, intending only to give her a good tongue thrashing. She reacted and it went from there. When the police arrived, I began to tell them what I witnessed. Another man who I knew was lying told a story of the male fighter having initiated the attack and been fully to blame. This man emotionally interrupted me and sounded much more emotional than I could ever sound. The cops focused their attention on him and I went about my business knowing that justice would not be served based on his account. The male fighter had already left. I'm not sure if police ever caught up with him. I sensed that the liar felt that a man should never hit a woman and was lying to get the outcome he felt was right.

I see similar thinking emerging around the Ray Rice situation. Many people don't want to consider the possibility that Janay Rice antagonized her then-fiancee; because, they're so upset than a man (football player or otherwise) hit a woman for any reason at all. Rather than lying to the police, these people are reacting negatively to anyone who considers how Ray AND Janay could have done better.

But before I give my opinion of the Ray Rice situation, I'll say that a certain male Facebook friend whom I've met in real life several times was particularly upset by views that I expressed. After a lengthy exchange, it came out that he thought that I was only hard on women. I explained that I actually push many groups of people of either gender to think hard. He tried to find other ways to support his sensationalistic accusations. I logged off of Facebook and decided to explain the matter in a blog post.

With various groups that I associate with and conversations that I involve myself in, I have a personal rule of only speaking when I've identified a thought that:

1 – is highly rational
2 – further along in the thought process than what I've heard anyone mention
3 – difficult for people to wrap their heads around.

I often find ways to categorize my statements so that they apply broadly to many of the situations that those who hear me will encounter. This makes it likely that they'll be reminded of my words. That said:

I routinely go to my church's Bible study and talk about God being a hard god.

I have posted FB comments on multiple occasions in which I said that it is my pet peeve to see that people want a sweet god whom they can jerk around.

I routinely talk about how homeless people should learn to self-advocate and get over their apprehension.

I routinely talk about how housed people should forgo their stereotypes about homeless people and take steps to connect them to living-wage jobs – how that they should at least abstain from falsely accusing homeless people or hating them for their socioeconomic status.

I routinely tell Whites to bite their tongues and hear the concerns of Blacks, with the Black race having been oppressed and under-educated for many years.

I routinely tell Blacks to engage in critical thinking.

I usually speak calmly. I sometimes state the application and at other times the general concept. But I always make it a point to bring the most difficult thoughts to any conversation.

Now for the kicker. I've said that the Peterson child was a full victim and that Janay Rice was only a partial victim. I don't expect mature behavior from any 4-year old child. I do expect mature behavior from a woman or man. Rather than making allowances for a woman's emotion to get the better of her and cause her to initiate violence, we should expect rational behavior from both genders.

I also believe that Ted Robinson was right and should not have been suspended by the 49'ers when he said that Janay Rice should have come out with her version of events sooner and that her decision to marry Ray after the fact was pathetic. Neither statement “blamed” her for Ray Rice punching her. Both were advice as to what she should've done in the aftermath. I believe that this over-extended definition of victim blaming actually is an effort to muzzle a man's rationale. I won't be muzzled and don't give a damn who doesn't like it.

I should add that Ray Rice didn't need to cold-cock Janay like he did. Professional boxers are not allowed to hit non-boxers, even if the non-boxer throws the first punch. Ray Rice was getting hit by large men on the football field. What his wife did couldn't have actually hurt. So, while she clearly took shots at him, the magnitude of his response was unwarranted.

Please try to understand this very long blog for its rational content and don't get emotional or sensationalistic.

Any questions?????

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, August 22, 2014

“A riot is the language of the unheard” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As I watch events in Ferguson, MO play out in the media, I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., during an interview with Mike Wallace on “60 Minutes” in which he said, “A riot is the language of the unheard. The U.S. Government has failed to hear that the economic plight of the American Negro has worsened over the past few years”.

It's crystal clear to the socially and politically conscious that governments in the U.S. are defending the interests of corporations, not defending or enriching the lives of all American citizens. On the contrary, poor people who want a better life often become capitalist cannon fodder. (Just think for a moment about the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling.)

Once a group is socioeconomically deprived, American governments add insult to injury and compound their suffering. They treat poor people as if their poverty is the result of a character flaw, as opposed to a set of systemic flaws in American governance. They aim to punish people into developing “good character” and the affluence that supposedly follows. That only begins to explain what we see being played out in Ferguson, Missouri (with its current “misery”).

In the capitalist scheme of things, Ferguson is like that wayward child who needs to be spanked as an example for the other children. And many Americans are buying into that narrative by capitalizing on the crimes that Michael Brown was suspected of committing – theft of a $49 box of cigars and simple assault -- rather than the cop's lack of probable cause for stopping him in the first place. It has cost much more than $49 to police the Ferguson riots and neither the assaults by police nor the oppressed have been simple. We've jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

I'd be remiss if I failed to mention the fact that it was the police who escalated the situation by bringing in K-9 units and conjuring up images of the civil rights marches of the 50's and 60's. So, people react to an unjustified execution by a police officer and more police are brought in with dogs and only serve to exacerbate and compound the original problem. Then the city police are replaced by county police, supposedly to ease tensions. Then county police are replaced with national guardsmen. Then the governor implements a curfew. And, throughout all of this, public officials seem to be clueless as to why tensions are only increasing. Or maybe they were trying to fill some for-profit prison.

In 2005 the people made homeless by Hurricane Katrina were accused of looting – even those who only took perishable necessities from inoperable businesses. Now the media ostracizes residents of Ferguson for looting. Our governments continue to guard businesses from needy people who, in many cases, are only trying to survive like the newly-homeless people after Hurricane Katrina. They invest more in prisons than they invest in education. My Marxist and Communist friends sometimes tell me that we shouldn't say that poor people are “stealing”, but that they're “taking what's rightfully theirs from the capitalists”. I would add that, if poverty breeds crime, then it stands to reason that decreasing poverty would, in turn, decrease crime and the justification for investing in more for-profit prisons where it costs much more to give inmates the necessities of life that they often receive through social services anyway.

Social media is rife with references to the looting of the world economy by Goldman Sachs and by Wall Street as a whole with the help of the U.S. Congress and Bush 43 – and rightly so. Let's not forget about how JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon legally gambled away two billion dollars ($2,000,000,000.00) in a single day and kept his job. Or how the Bush 43 and Obama administrations facilitated the gift of 1.3 TRILLION dollars ($1,300,000,000,000.00) to Wall Street, in essence throwing good money after bad by giving the poor stewards of our economy more of our tax dollars to waste.

That brings us to the crux of the issue and the gist of this post: How should we define “law”, “civil society” or “civil behavior”? For citizens? For police? For the military? For Congress? For any and all walks of life? The various decisions by cops, courts and legislators nationwide comprise a form of jurisprudence known as “legal realism” which basically means: “We make the rules up as we play the game and the “real law” is the abstract totality that emerges out of what police, judges and legislators decide over time. It focuses on how laws and rights are applied, NOT what's on the books”. To a lesser degree, we are also dealing with matters of “critical legal studies” – a school of thought that sees law as the expression of the policy goals of the dominant social group – such as the bourgeoisie or proletariat. (As people's reactions to an unjust system intensify, this latter consideration will move to the forefront and the “wealth protectors” will unabashedly slaughter the oppressed.) With that in mind, let's establish a few working definitions before we proceed (all from Wikipedia):

Jurisprudence: the study and theory of law. Scholars in jurisprudence, also known as legal theorists (including legal philosophers and social theorists of law), hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions.

Jim Crow Laws: were a number of laws of the United States. These laws were enforced in different states between 1876 and 1965. "Jim Crow" laws provided a systematic legal basis for segregating and discriminating against African-Americans.

Legal Realism: is a theory of jurisprudence which argues that the real world practice of law is what determines what law is; the law has the force that it does because of what legislators, judges, and executives do with it. Similar approaches have been developed in many different ways in sociology of law.

Critical Legal Studies: is a younger theory of jurisprudence that has developed since the 1970s. It is primarily a negative thesis that holds that the law is largely contradictory, and can be best analyzed as an expression of the policy goals of the dominant social group

Inverted Totalitarianism: is a term coined by political philosopher Sheldon Wolin in 2003 to describe the emerging form of government of the United States. Wolin believes that the United States is increasingly turning into an illiberal democracy, and uses the term "inverted totalitarianism" to illustrate similarities and differences between the United States governmental system and totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet Union.

Now let's juxtapose two recent, high profile police killings. The 400-lb. Eric Garner was choked to death by a New York City police officer on July 17th, 2014 for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. (Al Capone was imprisoned for tax evasion.) On August 9th, 2014, the 6'4” Michael Brown was shot at least six times by a police officer who supposedly didn't even know yet that Mr. Brown fit the description of a man who was suspected of stealing cigars from a nearby convenience store. That raises some serious questions around probable cause for stopping Michael Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson.

In both cases the men were large, one tall and the other heavy. Both men were Black. Both were killed by White cops. Both were suspected of committing “crimes” involving tobacco products. (Quite honestly, in my struggle to quit smoking cigarettes, being able to buy “singles” or “looseys” has proven helpful. With the government encouraging cessation, you would think they'd take that into consideration.) Eric Garner lost his life over a police operation known as “Broken Windows” which purportedly aimed to catch people committing petty crimes before they committed bigger ones. Ironically (or maybe not), it was the police who committed the bigger crime. Let's also factor in how four NYPD officers were acquitted for the 1999 murder of unarmed Amadou Diallo.

Taken together with the myriads of similar cases, a picture of “legal realism” begins to emerge. If you are Black, you'll be targeted by White police officers. If you are a large Black man, the police might fear you or want to prove that they can whoop you. In either instance, you'll end up dead. The government will imprison or kill you if they can't tax every bit of income that passes through your hands – every little bit. Whether you raise your hands in submission or attempt to show the police your identification, you can be killed for it and the police can be acquitted. Even after you're dead, cops might use your corpse for target practice. (Landing only 19 out of 41 shots from point-blank range is not good marksmanship, especially when you consider that most of those shots were fired after Amadou Diallo was on the ground dying or dead.) In a capitalist society, anyone who is both Black and poor has a target on their back. This is the “political realism” and the current “critical legal analysis” that Afro-Americans have to live with.

Blacks are the poorest race in the United States of America percentage-wise, though there are more poor Whites in terms of raw numbers. Homeless people are, of course, the poorest of the poor. The terms “Black” and “poor” are almost synonymous. If we are cursed with a Republican majority in both houses for Obama's last two years, then “Black” and “homeless” will soon be near-synonyms. These are our social and political realities.

I've been advocating for the homeless since June 2006. Though I've never encouraged negative behavior by any homeless person, I've met a few people who've implied things of that nature. In one instance, I saw a mentally-ill homeless man jumping up and down and spinning around in the library. I called the Department of Mental Health. I then described the incident to a lady friend, explaining that bystanders were expressing fear and uncertainty. She said, “You mean to tell me that you see how the homeless make OTHER people feel?! That's good, Eric”. In another instance, I arrived early to a meeting a couple of years ago. During some small talk, I said something about the bad behavior of a certain homeless person, though I don't recall what incident I was discussing. A man who was setting up for the meeting sarcastically said, “You actually see that homeless people can do wrong too?”

Though I've never stated any support for the wrongs committed by homeless people, I HAVE spoken out against the unprovoked wrongs committed against the homeless. All too often I'm called upon to speak to the issue of the “criminalization of homelessness” – the practice whereby many municipal governments in the United States of America outlaw the fulfilling of basic human needs like sleeping or being fed in certain public places, with the intent of making life more difficult for the homeless. I also talk about how, even though it was called torture when US. Soldiers were suspected of depriving their Iraqi captives of sleep, the police in this country often deprive an unsheltered homeless person of sleep by kicking them off of park benches and out of other public venues – even in the wee hours off the night. Some cops even wait in the alley around five or six o'clock in the morning in hopes of seeing a homeless person relieve themselves. In our system of inverted fascism, local governments go so far as to arrest and jail the good people who feed the homeless or give them money. I've spoken out against such laws and against the reduction of funding for social services even as the need for such services increases.

Some people have jumped to the erroneous conclusion that I support the homeless doing others wrong or being a public nuisance. I can't count the times that someone has pointed to a group of about 30 homeless people hanging out on a sidewalk near a 1,350-person shelter, chatting, smoking cigarettes (possibly drinking alcohol or smoking K2) and told me that I shouldn't fight for them because they don't want to help themselves. If I were to give up on them, I'd be doing them a grave disservice; as, the homeless are a disenfranchised group of people who often can't stand up for themselves without assistance – though we are 8,000 strong in a city of 650,000 people.

Louis Farrakhan would agree with me that Afro-Americans are the product of their environment, having been shaped by the social injustices of slavery, Jim Crow law, racial profiling and socioeconomic deprivation. He might even agree that a failure to afford quality education to Blacks contributes to generational poverty. Simply put, the disinvestment in quality education which is so characteristic of capitalists has come back to bite them in the ass. They like to treat people like mushrooms by “keeping them in the dark and feeding them a bunch of shit”. Well, now the mushrooms are “releasing” their spores.

That brings us right back to the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “A riot is the language of the unheard. The U.S. Government has failed to hear that the economic plight of the American Negro has worsened over the past few years”. Sadly, what was said so many years ago is still true today. That truth lends itself to the conclusion that government is either unable or unwilling to address the socioeconomic plight of Afro-Americans. Both may be true. Neither is acceptable.

During the aforementioned interview, Dr. king advised against resorting to violence. That, of course, was before he was gunned down. Gandhi also preached a message of non-violence and met the same fate. In both instances, people began rioting after their leader was killed. Though the British no longer control India, the situation of Afro-Americans is worse now than it was in the 60's. I'm forced to conclude that these messages of non-violence didn't work for Dr. King or Gandhi and failed to get through to their followers.

The mistreatment of Afro-Americans has only evolved but never dissipated. The fact that socioeconomic deprivation is more subtle than slavery or Jim Crow law makes it considerably more difficult for us to make the case for America having a grossly unjust system. America's “inverted totalitarianism” results in citizens losing interest in politics and leads to politicians being given full run of the house to do as they please while not having their constituents' best interest at heart. America's “inverted fascism” results in local police becoming the “wealth protectors” who harass the homeless and kill unarmed poor people who were poorly educated by the public school system – all in the name of capitalism and the bourgeoisie agenda.

It stands to reason that, if Black Americans were to become completely non-aggressive, then the fate of the poorest – the homeless – would become the fate of the entire race in this country. We'd be doomed to perpetual socioeconomic injustice. Yet public officials including Barack Obama insist on people calming down in order to have their demands met. So, even as these supposed leaders failed to see how they were escalating a volatile situation on August 10th, they also fail to see how counter-intuitive it would be for the oppressed whose demands have not been met during anyone's lifetime and who are reacting to mistreatment by government to now meet government's demand for calm so that government can tell Blacks what it will do for them. We calmed down 46 years ago, right after the 1968 riots, and we have nothing to show for it. Why make the same mistake again? While it can be argued that Blacks shouldn't approach the oppressor for redress of grievances anymore, the fact remains that, for the moment, that's our only option.

So, while I REFUSE to add to the calls for peace, I'll offer some advice. Blacks should learn how to “sublate”: to create our own new system within the old until we outgrow the latter. If and when that new system matures, we'll be able to completely throw off the old. It behooves the “peacekeepers” to encourage conversation about the new system that Afro-Americans want and how they might begin to create it in spite of government, rather than these “peacekeepers” wasting their time telling people not to fight back against their attackers. (How do you “keep” what you've never had, peace or otherwise?) After we've followed this new path long enough, we'll also eliminate the need for Blacks to depend on their oppressive governments anymore.

Those who've been paying attention know that, throughout this post I've pitted our capitalist government against Blacks. I've made no mention of other racial tensions. But in closing, I'll give a couple of lessons learned from the Occupy Movement to the non-Black Supporters out there:

During Occupy DC I heard Blacks asking Whites, “Where were you for the past 50 years that Blacks have been enduring so much social injustice? Why did you wait until you couldn't find a job or pay off your student loan before you decided to start a movement?” (The short answer is that many of the occupiers – Black and White – were only 20 to 25 years old and had only earned enough trust from their parents to leave home unattended less than 10 years prior.) We eventually got past those tensions and people of all races marched together. The lesson that can be learned here is that non-Black supporters may need to show patience and an ability to listen as Afro-Americans vent their anger and frustration.

During Occupy DC Afro-Americans also complained about how Whites were trying to lead them again. They mentioned how that, during slavery and Jim Crow, the White man told Blacks what to do. I often tell Blacks how that, when they clamor to get into predominantly White schools, they send a message to the White man that what Whites have created is awesome and we imply that Blacks can't do as well or better. In any instance, you get the picture. There's a big power differential at work here. The solution to this problem is simple:

Let the Blacks lead this movement.

The End.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Class War or a Viable Third Party???

In recent years I've taken to telling people about an impending CLASS WAR and encouraging them to side with the Proletariat/ BROletariat. I'm keenly aware of the increasing tensions between the haves and the have-nots and of the broken promise made by Washington, DC's mayor Vince Gray (2011-2015) to make our nation's capital into “One City” – a campaign slogan that plays off of the title of a Charles Dickens book called “A Tale of Two Cities”. In 2010 I ran across an article that referenced predictions by Gerald Celente, the renowned and fiercely accurate predictor of socio-economic trends and the director of Trends Research Institute. He predicted in 2008 that by the end of 2012 there would be, among other things, jobs marches, a reaction to the Wall Street bail-out, food riots and revolution in the UnitedStates – some of which happened.

Fast forward to August 4, 2014 (President Obama's 53rd birthday). That afternoon, after leaving a dual-purpose rally in support of Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan who was in DC and against Boko Haram, I attended a protest against Washington Harbor for them having asked the police to (illegally) remove people selling prison art from a wide median near their business. (The police actually guarded our protest in Washington, DC's ritzy Georgetown neighborhood. LOL.) While there, I spoke to DC Council at-large candidate and good friend Eugene Puryear about these rising tensions, a recent attack on a homeless man by anANC commissioner and the impending, long overdue and much-needed CLASS WAR. He seemed to agree with all that I said and then proceeded to tell me about a recent piece written by venture capitalist and near-billionaire Nick Hanauer entitled “The Pitchforks Are Coming”. In it he explains that the income gap between the rich and the poor in this country is greater than it's ever been and that, if something isn't done by the wealthy to mitigate the negative effects of poverty and inequity, then the poor will rise up in CLASS WAR.

On August 5th, 2014 after eating at a place that serves homeless people, I spoke to another client named Robert. I began to tell him that, through 1968 the U.S. Government was a savior of sorts to Blacks – that the feds actually made laws against various Jim Crow practices and went so far as to send in the troops so that Black children could attend integrated schools. I went on to say that presidents became overtly evil starting in 1969. Richard Nixon was inaugurated on January 20, 1969. I was born 26 days later on February 15th. Robert asserted that God made man who made government and that all governments are dictatorial and inherently evil. I said that we have to give governments some latitude to be government – that we must empower them with enough authority to get their job done. He adamantly disagreed. With that he was gone, having offered no solution. No good.

Later that day I did a media interview about the criminalization of homelessness and told Erin Bell what I knew about the homeless people in various U.S. cities being arrested for sleeping in public places when they have nowhere else to sleep and for partaking in other necessary human activities on public land. (Let's remember that, when U.S. soldiers were accused of depriving their Iraqi captives of sleep, it was called torture.) I also told her of good people being arrested for feeding the homeless and of my multiple interviews with Al Jazeera Television where I talked about the aforementioned mistreatment of homeless people in this country. (Several years ago, dozens of United Nations member nations drew up a resolution accusing the United States government of human rights violations. The world is watching with much help from Al Jazeera.)

I also told Erin that I firmly believe that a new form of American fascism is arising. We generally associate fascism with federal governments. However, U.S. fascism is "asserting" (not to be confused with "creating" or "defining") itself in a much different way. With the supreme court having solidified corporate control of the U.S. Government firmly in place, it is the local governments which are now making the draconian laws that target poor people. (And you thought Budapest was bad?!) The federal government is merely turning a blind eye to the domestic mistreatment of poor people as the feds focus more on creating international havoc.

Immediately following that interview, I spoke with friend and fellow homeless advocate David Pirtle about the need for CLASS WAR. He is a bit of a pacifist and tried to dissuade me from touting such violent rhetoric. He made the point that Americans aren't ready for CLASS WAR, especially since the government gives the poor just enough for them to worry about losing if they were to rise up – e.g. food stamps and subsidized housing. (I know all too well about people not rising up lest they lose their meager public benefits.) I then offered the idea of creating a viable third party and said that, of the “many third parties” (go figure), none is viable enough to break the two-party dynamic of our nation. David pointed out how that a relatively miniscule Tea Party has gained control of the Republican party and pushed its agenda through. I'd say that it's something to think about; but, might be harder to do again in lieu of the fact that the Tea Party, both major parties and others are watching to make sure that third-party politics don't become the new normal. After all, the creation of a viable third party would make it such that people don't have to flip-flop back and forth between two parties that are screwing them over time and time again – which hearkens back to the creation of party primaries. They'd have to think more in-depth about what defines each party and its candidates for different positions rather than just thinking in terms of “opposites”. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats want that to happen.

The primaries were supposed to give us a larger field of candidates so that we don't need to choose between two crooks in November. We now start with 10 to 20 crooks per position and narrow it down to one. When presidential term limits became the law in 1951, it was supposed to ensure that no president would become a dictator. But a lame duck president is less inclined to please his constituents than one who can run indefinitely and has to think about the next election. Furthermore, with Bush 43 having basically told America to go f**k itself, if the Dems were to put forth such a froward president, it would become crystal clear to Americans that they can't find salvation in either major party. However, that doesn't answer the pressing question: “What are we going to do about it?”.

Even if you disagree with my CLASS WAR rhetoric and aren't sure what to do about dirty politics, I can help you to summarily dismiss any notion that changing the way we vote (as was done by the creation of primaries) will do a substantial amount of good. Consider the aforementioned challenges associated with creating a third party. Add to that the fact that this viable third party would be regulated by the same capitalist vanguard. This third party would serve to make our government more cohesive for a short while before being co-opted by the establishment and melded into the capitalist class. So, you can see why I wouldn't spend an inordinate amount of my time trying to create a viable third party, though it is still good as a temporary means to an end. Furthermore, I don't feel strongly about the need to vote. I would however emphasize the need to inundate our respective incumbents with our demands – uniting against the feds first and then fanning out to the states and locales. They are supposed to work for all of their constituents once they take office.

On August 2nd, 2014 I was in a park when I noticed a protest nearby. It turned out to be a protest against Israel albeit in the U.S. capital. While there, I spoke with Matt Glover about the need for CLASS WAR. He agreed and expressed his frustration with get others to see the light. He asked how we should organize such an uprising. I suggested that we use social media to encourage over 600,000 U.S. citizens per day to come to DC and protest the U.S. government – cycling through most or all of population annually. He added that some people might stay for more than one day. We imagined that, if people were to remain for 5 days at a time, there could be as many as 3,000,000 protesters in DC on any given day and we could shut down our infamously ineffective congress. We've established on-line contact and will collaborate on such an effort. (You can help by sharing the aforementioned idea with as many people as possible.)

While many of my REVOLUTIONARY friends are like Robert insomuch as they choose only to disparage the government and don't recognize it as having ever done any good whatsoever, I beg to differ. I'll avoid the slippery slope of discussing motives. However, on its face, some of what the U.S. government has done in days long gone has been good. In 1934, during the first of Franklin D. Roosevelt's four terms (him having died in the first year of his fourth term), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was created. (They actually used to help poor people purchase houses, as opposed to simply paying most of the person's rent.)

The Great Depression was five years old and would continue for another eleven years. State and local governments which are not allowed to run deficits were unable to foot the bill for social services any longer. The federal government decided to use its right to run a deficit by creating social services that would replace those at the state and local levels. Such was the logic for creating HUD. Now Congress speaks of wanting to decrease the deficit. To do this, they are decreasing social services funding. So, the logic of 1934 has been flipped on its head. The feds have gone from creating federal social services due to being able to run a deficit over to cutting back those social services in order to reduce the deficit. What's missing is a stated analysis of the effect this will have on the poor. Will we just lie down and die without a FIGHT?!

While the poor and dispossessed have many needs, it has been the need for housing or shelter that has brought out the most FIGHTERS over the years and this will probably remain true for many years hence. During the Reagan administration, hundreds of homeless people and many housed advocates put life, limb and personal freedom on the line to go up against the president and force him to turn a dilapidated, vacant federal building into a shelter with a thirty-year covenant stating that it would serve the homeless until at least July 7th, 2016. With the covenant about to expire, I initiated a process that has led to the DC Council creating a bill that will force the mayor to develop a plan for the shelter's 1,350 residents (one-sixth of DC's homeless population). These FIGHTERS also effected the creation of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Services Act which was renewed in 2009 as the HEARTH Act (Homeless Emergency Assistance, Rapid Transition to Housing) and signed into law by Obama on May 20th of that year. It was handed off to HUD to be implemented and is expected to be fully implemented later this month.

All of this lends itself to the fact that, during my life (almost to the day), there has been an awkward and strained relationship between the feds and the poor (the “fed-up's”). The poor were offered salvation from the federal government during the Great Depression. That would continue through the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson. Fifteen or so years later, during the latter half of Reagan's first term, many homeless Vietnam veterans would find themselves FIGHTING against Reagan's Keynesian politics on the home front – albeit without the BIG GUNS. We had to actually FORCE the leader to lead properly – to care for the least of his constituents. Today we still find ourselves FIGHTING against the desire by Congress to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. We're still up against what is essentially a bait and switch – creating federal programs to replace state and local programs and then attempting to end those federal programs at a time and in a way that is most inopportune for the recipients of those services.

We now have a president who is half Black, though many people fail to acknowledge his Caucasian side. Some time ago, I spoke with friend and fellow advocate Linda Leaks about the fact that Obama has done close to nothing for Blacks. (It was noted that he is not the president of Blacks only.) We discussed how that he can't be expected to come out and say that he's going to do this or that for Blacks. She then said that he should say “poor” – that if he was uncomfortable saying he's doing something for Blacks, he should say that he's doing it for the poor. Good point.

I'll offer yet another possibility. As a homeless advocate, I deal with the poorest of the poor. I also know that the top reasons for homelessness I this country include lack of affordable housing or a living wage, domestic violence, medical bankruptcy and untreated mental illness. It stands to reason that an effort by the president to end homelessness would cause him to have to address many other social ills as well. I've said in the past that a president could pretty much govern the country simply by devoting himself to ending homelessness. But Obama has failed to confront those who call him a Socialist. He should've stood up to them and asked if they were implying that he should ignore the poor. But he didn't. His time to show strength and assert the need for a more Socialistic government that adequately assists its poor is running out. He might have to deal with a Republican majority in both houses during his last two years – 2015 being characterized by stress and futile assertions on Obama's part and 2016 hopefully being characterized by CLASS WAR.

I'm not saying that poor people should be expected to remain on social services indefinitely. However, the federal government has offered these services long enough for generations of poor people to become dependent on the and to lose whatever job skills and life skills they may have had at one time. It makes no sense to just pull the rug out from under these dependents. The government should take steps to connect people to living-wage jobs – the jobs that the government can't create. Social service recipients shouldn't be weaned off of their government assistance unless and until that government can effectively connect them to another form of sustainable sustenance via living-wage employment. (maybe they'll pull it off by 2114.)

This awkward and strained relationship between the feds and the “fed-up's” (poor), though it can be traced back as far as Nixon, really came to a head during Reagan. The Gipper really showed us one again that the words of Frederick Douglass remain true: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and I never will.” By caving to pressure rather than governing by conscience, he set himself and many other politicians up to be inundated with people's demands – to have positive laws and policies enacted by applying pressure from the bottom up with grass roots advocacy.

Now the efforts of homeless REVOLUTIONARIES in the 80's have come full circle. There is action being taken on the future of the CCNV Shelter as its covenant comes to a close. There is the HEARTH Act which as part of its renewal has new elements that require any city which receives HUD money to put in homelessness place a power structure that allows for quick decisions to be made concerning the homeless. Here in Washington, DC Kristy Greenwalt has been hired as the first ever director of the DC Inter-agency Council on Homelessness (ICH). She previously served as the housing policy director for the USICH. She has about three weeks to bring DC into full compliance with the HEARTH Act. I trust that she'll pull it off.

It is worth noting that many of the concerns which the poor and the homeless have raised are met in her. She has to implement legislation that was created during Reagan, renewed by Obama, implemented over the course of five and a half years by HUD, under-funded by Congress and handed down to state and local governments. She also has to contend with the exponential increase in DC's homeless population and the fact that we are not in a state and therefore don't have that funding source. Add to that the fact that there has been a dismal response to homelessness by the feds since 1987 when the Mckinney-Vento Act was passed and that there have been many missed opportunities over the years to humanely end homelessness in the District. There is a heightened level of distrust and frustration among the homeless concerning government and the non-profits that advocate for the poor. Kristy Greenwalt will have to deal with all of this and more. But failure is not an option; for, just over the horizon in the spring of 2016 I see CLASS WAR!!!!!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, August 3, 2014

From Beating to Embracing the Homeless (Formerly: THE GALES SCHOOL SCAM)

 I began blogging on June 21st, 2008. Below is my 4th entry from July 11th of that year. It has to do with the then-disputed disposition of the historic Gales School by DC Government to a religious organization to be used as a homeless shelter and a July 10th, 2008 DC Council hearing to address the matter. To see video of the hearing (as I've become more tech savvy in the past 6 years) CLICK HERE and follow the instructions below:

INSTRUCTIONS:

1 -- Scroll down to the last hearing for July 10th, 2008 and click "View meeting".
2 -- Go to 34 minutes and 40 seconds in the video.
3 -- Watch the next 3 testifiers: a snobbish, NIMBYistic ANC commissioner (my reason for resurrecting this post from 6 years ago), myself and a local activist who supports the poor.

HERE it is again.

As it turns out, there is much tension between the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, the business community and well-to-do people on the one hand and the poor and homeless on the other hand. Both groups are vying for the attention of DC Government so as to have them create laws and policies that favor the respective group and its constituents. It's like CLASS WAR ON A LOCAL LEVEL.

This tension erupted recently as an ANC commissioner attacked a homeless man sleeping outdoors in his neighborhood. LEO DWYER has been charged with a misdemeanor and, due to a recent court decision, will be able to carry a gun in DC -- which could lead to greater violence against the homeless who are often attacked as they sleep (like DC's own Yoshio Nakada). Fortunately, the National Coalition for the Homeless is fighting to make attacks against the homeless simply because of their socio-economic status a hate crime.

As the links in the previous paragraphs indicate, low-income people are being priced out of DC (3,000/ month recently); well-to-do people are coming in (4,000/ month recently); violent attacks on the homeless are increasing in frequency as well as intensity; political attacks on the poor are also increasing in frequency as well as intensity and the world is watching via Al Jazeera. It therefore behooves the bourgeoisie to initiate efforts to get along with the dispossessed and to coexist peacefully. That is the thrust and purpose of this repost. There were many reasons for us not to want the Central Union Mission to move to the Gales School, not the least of them being the NIMBYistic underpinnings (NIMBY: Not In My Back Yard). Six years later, DC's homeless community has all the more reason to fear and lash out at the bourgeoisie -- not only in NW Washington, DC but across the city.

I'm one to offer solutions and pride myself in being a man of reason. So, to that end I offer a radical idea. Let's connect the 1,350-bed CCNV Shelter to its ANC 6C and foster meaningful relationships between the homeless and the housed. As a matter of fact, let's have LEO DWYER facilitate that process. We could also have him listen to homeless people tell their stories through the Faces of homelessness Speakers' Bureau. It makes sense to approach his entire DuPont Circle ANC 2B and to get their take on his actions as well as the way forward. This is especially true since DuPont Circle is frequented by dozens of homeless people and is the area where the quasi-bourgeoisie attack took place.

So, in addition to posting this blog on my fan page, I'll send it to various ANC's, public officials and media outlets. We can pre-empt the developing CLASS WAR by fostering relationships between the haves and the have-nots -- especially since Mayor Vince Gray's ostensible efforts to make DC a place for people of all economic strata has failed. (I thought Obama did poorly at addressing homelessness; but, at least he signed legislation to address it -- even if it's taken over five years to fully implement.)

Feel free to assist me in this matter by posting THIS LINK on your various websites and pages and by e-mailing it to as many interested parties as possible. TEXT me at 240-305-5255 to arrange a meeting around the aforementioned effort to facilitate meaningful relationships between the bourgeoisie and the homeless/ dispossessed "The BROletariat". Not beginning this process will only expedite the CLASS WAR. You can also e-mail me at ericsheptock@yahoo.com with the heading "Violence vs. Homeless"

LET'S TAKE ACTION NOW!!!!!

The original July 10th, 2008 entry begins here:

This is the testimony that I read at the July 10th hearing in which the disposition of the Gales School by DC Government was considered. The Gales School at 65 Massachusetts Ave., NW was part of a recent land swap in which the DC Government acquired 4 Petworth properties from the Central Union Mission in exchange for the Gales School. It looks as if the deal will go through and be OK'ed by the council. Following my testimony are some thoughts on the hearing.

THE GALES SCHOOL SCAM

I am against the transfer of the Gales School at 65 Mass. Ave. to the Central Union Mission for several reasons. first and foremost is the fact that this deal is predicated on a lack of good principle on the part of DC Government and several residents. In short, the underpriviledged have been forced out of the Petworth community by Councilman Graham and his cohorts, as if this rejection will somehow end their homelessness. That's not to speak of the fact that these same homeless people are, in effect, being dumped on another community.

Being the homeless homeless activist that I am, I'm well aware of the fact that WIN (the Washington Inter-faith Network) is working closely with the mayor on the issue of affordable housing. On April 7th of this year, they held a meeting at Emory UMC. During that meeting, the mayor committed to creating at least 350 units of permanent supportive housing and 150 downtown shelter beds and bringing them on-line BEFORE the closure of Franklin School Shelter at 13th and K streets, NW., which is slated to close on or by October 1st of this year. (It seems quite unrealistic to think that this goal will be met in less than 3 months.)

The language of the legislation which is being considered today strongly suggests that the mayor is trying to pass Gales School off as a replacement for Franklin School and a fulfillment of his promise of downtown shelter. It is neither. It is a replacement for the Central Union Mission. And it is not located in the same "downtown" as Franklin. We were speaking of the downtown that revolves around the Wilson bldg., not the Capitol. At the very least, the mayor needs to clarify that he is not considering the Gales School to be a fulfillment of his promise to WIN.


If the Gales School were to be converted into a men's shelter, it would put an undue burden on homeless services in the area such as SOME and the Father McKenna Center. It would also take the clientele from other services that are near the present location of the Central Union Mission at 14th and R streets, NW, thus creating a need to move those services and to do the "homeless shuffle". The closure of Franklin School would cause even more homeless people to be dumped on this part of town, possibly the NY Ave. shelter.


The Gales School formerly served about 170 people. Franklin holds 300 men. CUM has 170. That adds up to 640 people. Gales will house 150 when it reopens. If and when Franklin and CUM close and Gales reopens, we will have suffered a net loss of almost 500 shelter beds.


Furthermore, the District wants to give this property away only due to it being a piece of trash. It has no roof. It is being held up by temporary external braces. This historic building should've been history long ago. It is severely handicapped, or shall I say "physically challenged"? That says a lot about how you feel about its future occupants.


The building was slated to become a women's shelter some time ago. Considering the impact that this shelter will have on the surrounding community (especially other homeless services), this would be the better usage. That is only true as long as Franklin is kept open insomuch as it would enable Franklin residents to walk to services that are further west such as Miriam's Kitchen or Martha's Table. The list of reasons goes on. However, I'll stop there for now.


I would strongly urge the council to create emergency legislation reversing the planned closure of the Franklin School shelter and to redo the math so as to make sure that DC doesn't further decrease its ability to help the homeles community. Finally, was the completed renovation of Gales School in 2010 timed to occur 2 years after Franklin closes in hopes that the homeless would just leave town for lack of a place to stay?


*****[END OF TESTIMONY] *****

As is often the case, I came up with more things to talk about after I'd already had my turn to testify. I heard people stating misconceptions and stereotypes about the homeless. However it was a certain woman of color who sat to my left and testified immediately before me whom I was most anxious to tell off. She seemed quite unsympathetic to the plight of the homeless. She made no secret of the fact that she considers them to be an eyesore and to bring down the value of the neighborhood. She also indicated that she thought that crime would skyrocket and that the homeless were to be feared even to the extent that parents could not allow their children to play outdoors for fear of the homeless. It was only at the coaching of Councilman Jim Graham that she reluctantly showed some token sympathy for the homeless. I can be seen on TV just eyeing her up and down as she spoke. It took a lot to bite my tongue.

Councilmen Jim Graham and Kwame had arrived early and heard my testimony from beginning to end. Carol Schwartz, Tommy Wells and Jack Evans were all late arrivals who walked in just as I finished, with there having been 3 testimonies before mine. Kwame Brown, who'd been chairing the hearing due to Schwartz's tardiness, left as I finished. A friend of mine named Oscar sat to my right and testified after me. He was awesome. I couldn't help but laugh throughout his testimony, as he laid it on the DC Government. Oscar and Jack Evans then began a rather lively debate about Franklin School Shelter. Though I live there, I couldn't get a word in edgewise and Schwartz denied me the opportunity to weigh in. I won't waste your time by elaborating on the erroneous ideas that were stated. (This blog is already becoming quite the lengthy article.) However, the things that I wanted to say to the councilmembers after having had my turn to speak were as follows:

1 -- Councilman Graham mentioned that the homeless were not asked if they wanted to move from the present location of Central Union Mission at 14th and R, NW to Petworth. That much is true. However, his statement is biased in favor of keeping the homeless out of Petworth. Fact of the matter is that they weren't contacted about whether or not they wanted to move to Gales School either. They tend to just get pushed around. Clarence Carter of DHS once asked me what right I have to decide where my shelter is located.

2 -- The ultimate goal is to house the homeless. (That point was made numerous times by numerous people throughout the hearing.) However, moving the homeless from one shelter to another is not even a lateral move. It is a downward move. It forces the homeless to make entirely new connections. They must find new soup kitchens and get connected to new homeless services. If they are not being housed, it is better to keep them in familiar surroundings.

3 -- The homeless walk to most of the places where they go. If a shelter is too far from the services used by the homeless, they won't go to that shelter. There would be a need to relocate services also.

4 -- The homeless get attached to certain churches that feed them as well as certain do-gooders that go out to the parks to feed and spend time with them and bring clothing and other goods. These do-gooders would need to be retrained on the new places where they can find these homeless people that they've come to know and love.

After the hearing I was able to speak with Mr. Graham for a minute. He asserted that the Franklin School situation was in no way related to the Gales School. I begged to differ with him. He got an uneasy look on his face and began to back away, being quite reluctant to stay and reason with me.

Prior to the hearing beginning, I spoke with David Treadwell, the executive director of Central Union Mission. He made the point that CUM was not "pushed" out of Petworth by gentrification but rather was "pulled" out by the more alluring downtown location of the Gales School, since the homeless tend to go to downtown when they arrive in a new city.

It was pointed out during the hearing that the Gales School might not be inhabitable until 2011. However, the present location of the Central Union Mission is slated to close in October of 2009. Carol Schwartz and Jim Graham mentioned the possibilities of postponing the closure of the present facility and/or expediting the renovation of gales School. Much uncertainty still exists pertaining to this matter.

Though various homeless advocates mounted one heck of a fight, I got the feeling that Gales School will become a men's shelter anyway. I have much more to tell you on this matter. I'll stop there for now. Nonetheless, I believe that the DC Government will learn through the school of hard knocks. They'll see just how unprepared they were to make these changes when they follow through on their plans.

End of repost

Note: The newly-renovated Gales School was reopened in November 2013 as the Central Union Mission.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, July 19, 2014

“The Future” of the 1,350-Bed CCNV Shelter – End of the Task Force 10/8/13 to 7/8/14


CCNV: Past, Present and Future (a website that was put together by my colleagues and I)

Well, the CCNV (Community for Creative Non-Violence) Shelter Task Force has completed its mission. It was convened on October 8th, 2013 to compile data and come up with recommendations for the mayor and city council concerning the future of the shelter; and, it held its final meeting on July 8th, 2014. The task force came up with a list of 17 principles that should be adhered to as we consider the future of the property and the one-sixth of DC's homeless people which it holds. On July 14th, 2014 the DC Council held its final hearing before a two-month recess and presented a bill which contains those 17 principles and requires the mayor to develop a comprehensive plan for CCNV. (That bill is pasted at the end of this post.)

But the work on this issue began long before October of 2013. I was told several times by the shelter director beginning in mid-2011 that the building could be closed in 2018. His worry was fueled by the story of a homeless woman who died on a bench in front of the shelter in June 2009. (See her on that bench in THIS VIDEO at 8 min 18 secs, just 3 days before she died.) DC Government responded by saying that if she hadn't been loitering there, she wouldn't have died there and that CCNV would lose its contract if they didn't put an end to the loitering. To add insult to death, CCNV began having its security personnel patrol the 2,000-ft perimeter city block on June 17th, 2009 – the same day this woman was buried.

I've also heard shelter staff and residents talking about the possible 2018 closure since mid-2011, leading me to believe that it was the primary topic of at least one staff meeting. So, in January 2013 I filed a FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) request with the federal government. I initially contacted GSA (General Services Administration). They referred me to HHS (Health and Human Services, the ones who screwed up the Obamacare website) which sent me almost 100 pages of information about the property and property rights. These documents indicated that the 30-year covenant began in July 1986 (before the renovation was complete), not 1988 and that we had two years less than we thought before the covenant expired. I sent that information to city officials. Councilman Jim Graham convened a hearing on June 27th, 2013. At the hearing he decided to convene a task force. On July 10th, 2013 the council voted to approve the task force's formation and the rest is history. I just want to ensure that the history is properly recorded with the role of myself and other homeless people being properly documented.

I'm pleased, for the most part, with the outcome of the task force's work. I can't logically complain about what wasn't accomplished, as I fully understand why we couldn't do more. But knowing this doesn't decrease the dismay. It was rather ingenious of Councilman Jim Graham to bring together existing federal legislation and local legislation that pertains to homeless services as well as the recommendations of the task force in the bill (below). If the bill is passed in its present form, it will mandate that the present and incoming (2015) mayors adequately address a matter that should have been addressed beginning over 25 years ago when the property was transferred from the feds to DC Government. I'm a bit dismayed that a task force of about 20 people could only come up with these 17 principles in nine months. I wish we could have developed some semblance of a plan; but, there were too many strong wills, technicalities and idiosyncrasies at work. That said, I've pasted my July 8th testimony below with a couple of added statements in [brackets]. The bill is below my testimony:

Testimony for July 8th, 2014 Hearing on CCNV Building Plans

I've advocated for DC's homeless community since mid-June 2006. While I've heard rumblings of a possible closure of the CCNV/Federal City Shelter since mid-2011 and met with Chapman Todd, a consultant for Downtown BID, in October and November 2012, I was one of the key people responsible for beginning the public conversation around the future of the 1,350-person shelter in January 2013. Prior to 2013, an overhaul of the property was an idea that was just tossed around informally. Now the public conversation is in full swing. I therefore have a vested interest in making sure the process goes well for all who will be affected by the mayor's decision. I am doing all that I can to fully and properly inform his decision. [To my dismay, the involvement of the homeless community in getting this process started has been grossly under-represented by certain media outlets.]

It is worth noting that, while efforts were made to involve the directly-affected homeless people in this process, our efforts have proven to be onerous. The homeless are a gravely disenfranchised lot of people. I'm guessing that, as this issue hits the headlines in a really big way, the homeless will realize the gravity of the situation and decide to come forth and speak on their own behalf. In lieu of this matter, I strongly suggest that another hearing or roundtable be scheduled in the early fall.

Due to a number of factors, the building's census fluctuates between 1,100 and 1,350 people with a recent document putting the maximum capacity at only 1,260 beds. Chapman told me in 2012 that any talk of closing the facility without creating a total of 1,350 beds elsewhere would be a conversation stopper. On March 24th, 2014 Richard Bradley of Downtown BID said that Chapman was speaking in lieu of the political realities of the fall of 2012 with those realities having changed. This was during a meeting in which Rich presented a document that placed the building's census at 909. He admitted to error. Nonetheless it highlights the need to ensure that we properly and fully inform the mayor's decision.

As the city begins to pay for services rendered to the 950 people that CCNV-Proper presently shelters at no operating cost to the city, the cost of helping these homeless residents will increase. The city has saved millions of dollars per year for 28 years (well over $100 million total, maybe 4 times that). It would easily cost the city at least $135 million to create affordable housing units for all CCNV/FCS residents with the mayor having promised almost 8 times as many units by 2020.

Some associates of mine have also said that we shouldn't speak of the sale and demolition of the present structure as a foregone conclusion – that we should consider the possibility of renovating the building and allowing its entities to continue to do business as usual. They've also suggested that we seek financing tools that will enable service providers to retain and redevelop the parking lot AND the present building for shelter and/or affordable housing. I concur with the latter statement.

It should be noted that, since 1986, DC Government has done very little to grow the residents of CCNV/FCS beyond homelessness. Even when Fenty insisted on closing the 300-bed Franklin School Shelter due to it being “unfit for human habitation” and not wanting to “warehouse homeless people”, there was no talk of housing or helping able-bodied people from this 1,350-person shelter. DHS has had oversight of this property for over 8 years; yet it remains a hole in the wall.

In closing, I'll say that any conversation about assisting the homeless should include at least two elements – a segment about how to house them [as opposed to simply sheltering them and defending their right to sleep on the streets] as well as an effort to involve the homeless in advocating for themselves.

See a copy of the bill below:

_________________________ _________________________
Councilmember Marion Barry Councilmember Jim Graham



________________________
Councilmember Anita Bonds



A BILL

____________

IN THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

__________________________


To amend the Homeless Services Reform Act of 2005 to require the Mayor to develop a plan that provides a range of comprehensive services that address the assessed needs of homeless individuals at 425 2nd Street, N.W., and that complies with the Statement of Principles as developed by the Center for Creative Non-Violence (“CCNV”) Task Force.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this
act may be cited as the “Plan for Comprehensive Services for Homeless Individuals at 425 2nd Street, N.W., Amendment Act of 2014”.
Sec. 2. The Homeless Services Reform Act of 2005, effective October 22, 2005 (D.C. Law 16-35; D.C. Official Code § 4-751.01 et seq.), is amended by adding new sections 27g and 27h to read as follows:
“Sec. 27g. Plan for comprehensive services for homeless individuals at 425 2nd Street, N.W.”
“In the provision of homeless services for individuals residing at the property located at 425 2nd Street, N.W., the Mayor shall develop a plan that complies with the Statement of Principles, outlined in section 27h and developed by the CCNV Task Force (“Task Force”) pursuant to the CCNV Task Force Emergency Act of 2013, effective August 2, 2013 (D.C. Act 20-147; 60 DCR 11809; 20 DCSTAT 2000), and the CCNV Task Force Temporary Act of 2013, effective December 5, 2013 (D.C. Law 20-45; 60 DCR 14959; 20 DCSTAT 2392).
“Sec. 27h. The Statement of Principles of the Task Force shall be as follows:
“(1) The District of Columbia has an obligation to provide for the needs of homeless District of Columbia residents in the development of its parcel at 425 2nd Street, N.W. This obligation went into effect when the property was first transferred from the federal government to the District of Columbia.
“(2) Any new development of the parcel should be “build first,” that is, the existing shelter should not be razed until replacement capacity is fully available.
“(3) Replacement capacity should be located at the current site to respond effectively to the needs of residents, to the maximum extent possible,.
“(4) Any replacement capacity located off-site should be close to public transportation, and for ease of access to jobs and services, ideally located in the downtown area of the District of Columbia.
“(5) Replacement capacity should primarily be deeply affordable housing, and include single room occupancy (“SRO”), efficiency, studio design, the Housing First model of permanent supportive housing with housing specifically targeting the needs of youth under the age of 25, and 24-hour low barrier shelter and hypothermia shelter. Some scattered site capacity through vouchers or otherwise, might be appropriate or desirable for some residents.
“(6) Any SRO, efficiency, or studio design unit should have sufficient square footage to meet current recommended standards for living space.
“(7) Private bathing and cooking space should be prioritized to the maximum extent possible.
“(8) Any site re-design should be responsive to security needs of residents, both within the building and in the surrounding environments.
“(9) Any new development should follow sustainable and green principles.
“(10) In any new construction, developers should follow “First Source” requirements. All efforts should be made to employ as many residents of 425 2nd Street, N.W., as possible.
“(11) Priority for new units should be given to current residents, people with disabilities, and people who are elderly.
“(12) All efforts should be taken in the redevelopment design to allow families, including families with no minor children, to be housed or sheltered together, regardless of gender.
“(13) It is important to have services available on-site.
“(14) Assessment of service needs, for example, whether a resident needs permanent supportive housing, should be made using the “state of the art” tools and standards available at the time of assessment.
“(15) There should be office space for management of programs included in the site re-design.
“(16) All non-shelter services presently at 425 2nd Street N.W., should be included in the site re-design to the maximum extent feasible.
“(17) All providers and relevant programs should meet the highest standards and have appropriate qualifications for the service provided.”.
Sec. 3. Fiscal impact statement.
The Council adopts the fiscal impact statement in the committee report as the
fiscal impact statement required by section 602(c)(3) of the District of Columbia Home Rule
Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code § 1-206.02(c)(3)).
Sec. 4. Effective date.
This act shall take effect following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of veto by the Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto), a 30-day period of Congressional review as provided in section 602(c)(1) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December
24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code § 1-206.02(c)(1)), and publication in the District of Columbia Register.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Spirituality of Poverty and Advocacy (SPA)


Once in a while I discuss the spirituality of my homelessness and advocacy while making one of my many speeches to high schools, colleges, universities and churches. That's not to say that I somehow choose to be homeless in order to fulfill a spiritual mission. True spirituality is not mission-based, as a mission has a beginning, a middle and an end. Spirituality is a state of being that has a beginning and no end; therefore, it can't have a middle. My homelessness and advocacy have been spiritual insomuch as I have learned about the horrors that exist in the most powerful country in the world; I have tapped into abilities that I didn't realize I had; and, I have made various spiritual connections in my mind as to how power is attained (or obtained) and used vs. how it should be used.

Wikipedia defines advocacy as: a political process by an individual or group which aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions. Advocacy can include many activities that a person or organization undertakes including media campaigns, public speaking, commissioning and publishing research or conducting exit poll or the filing of an amicus brief. Lobbying (often by lobby groups) is a form of advocacy where a direct approach is made to legislators on an issue which plays a significant role in modern politics.[1] Research has started unfolding how advocacy groups in the U.S.[2] and Canada[3] are using social media to facilitate civic engagement and collective action.

As indicated by the aforementioned definition, the primary target of my advocacy is government. However, as Hannibal Barca's (Barcid's) army often surrounded the opposing army and then defeated their virtual prisoners in a "circular battle", I too need an army of concerned and/or directly-affected citizens to surround and inundate government with our demands. Unfortunately, many of the people who could make up this “army” are very weak in spirit and disenfranchised. The poor and homeless have accepted their state as their lot in life and those who have sufficient means of survival don't get involved or cease their involvement in advocacy for any number of reasons ranging from having very busy schedules to believing that the poor and homeless deserve what life has dealt them. But so much for building the army. Let's define the reason for the war – spiritual-class war, of course.

The story begins between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago when God (Allah, Jehovah) spoke the world into existence using power and methodologies that transcend human science and work much more quickly and differently than big bang-evolutionary theory can ever understand or account for. During the first 3,000 years of this world's existence, the Creator made known His Laws which included compassion for the poor. Howbeit, He never demanded that able-bodied people be given hand-outs in perpetuity. He DID however command land owners not to pick up crops that were dropped during harvesting or to go over the field a second time. This would allow the stranger, the fatherless and the widow (those who didn't have a man of means in their lives) to “glean” their sustenance from the field. After all the Earth is the Lord's and it is He who brings the increase.

There were several hundred years during which God is not known to have spoken to anyone on Earth. The confused mixture of religions known as Hellenistic Polytheism sprung out of this era. Then came Jesus. He was born into poverty and homelessness. After Jesus at age twelve astounds the elders in the temple, we don't read anymore about Joseph. It is believed by some that the societal (mis)leaders took the home of his widowed mother Mary and that he had her and other widows in mind when he accused the Sanhedrin (pharisees and sadducees collectively) of taking the homes of widows.

There were various other instances during his ministry that were either possibly or certainly intended to send a strong message to those who oppress or ignore the poor. One such possibility was when Jesus turned water into wine. Jewish weddings were major social events that were attended by many. You didn't necessarily have to be a family member to attend. Notable people were served first and the poor were allowed to usurp the leftovers. The lord of the feast clearly stated that the worst wine is usually saved for last. This, of course, means that the poor get the low-quality wine. Jesus, however, “saved” the best for last.

Jesus was certainly speaking against oppression of the poor during his temple rampage. He accused those selling in the temple of turning what should've been a house of prayer into a den of thieves. It qualified as such for at least two reasons. First of all, God allowed the poor to offer turtledoves which they'd caught that were without spot of blemish. Even when a poor person brought a suitable dove to be offered, they were told by those selling in the temple that it had a blemish and that they must purchase a turtledove from the temple. That's when the second act of exploitation took place. The person had to exchange their money for temple currency before purchasing a turtledove and they always lost money in the exchange.

In addition to Jesus living in poverty and commanding his disciples to travel light, he told a rich young ruler who wanted to become a follower that he had to sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor. The man walked away. Christ also told us that there is very little chance of a rich man getting into Heaven. (The “eye of the needle” was a very small doorway that was cut into the city wall. A camel could only come through on its knees with no luggage on its back.) In the parable of the man who planned to build bigger barns, Jesus sent the message that the rich are OBLIGATED to help the poor. The story of a conversation between Abraham who held Lazarus in his bosom while in Heaven and a rich man who'd gone to Hell is believed by many theologians to be true insomuch as it gives the names of two out of three characters. (Maybe Jesus wanted to give other rich men the sense that it could one day be their story – to let them fill in the blank with their own name.) It is worth noting that in both the parable and the true story the rich man simply IGNORES THE POOR and GOES TO HELL. How much more will those who actively oppress and exploit the poor burn for it???!!!

It is also worth noting that Jesus opposed the religious super structure of his day but refused, on more than one occasion, to openly oppose the political super structure. He told those who were speaking supposedly in the name of God how wrong they were; but, he didn't give us any political advice or tell the Romans that they were wrong for anything that they were doing. The Jews wanted a savior to deliver them from the Romans. Jesus was not that kind of savior.

Despite Jesus' avoidance of politics, the disciples began intentional Communist communities as described in Acts chapter 2 verses 42 through 47. It makes sense when you consider the fact that neither partisan politics nor McCarthyism had the place in first century Rome that they have in present-day America. Add to that the fact that people don't need to be political in order to decide that they'll hold all things in common and live together in an intentional community. They just have to care about each other.

The first-century Christians were able to maintain these non-dictatorial Communist communities because, as Galatians 5:22 and 23 tells us: “The fruit of the spirit is Love, Joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, GOODNESS, faith, meekness and temperance. Against such there is no law.” Oddly enough, various state and city governments in this country as well as governments in other countries like that of Budapest, Hungary have outlawed acts of kindness like feeding or giving money to the homeless and/or acts whereby the homeless help themselves by sleeping in public places. People in this country (especially in Florida) have actually gone to jail for helping the homeless. Galatians 5:22-23 is no longer true.

Fast forward to 1945. The United States has become a world power. As a matter of fact, they're well on their way to becoming the most powerful nation on Earth. General Eisenhower who was largely responsible for U.S. victory in World War II would become president eight years later and finish his second term in January 1961. He was the first two-term president since term limits were ratified by the states in 1951.

Though term limits were intended to keep a president from becoming a dictator, they've actually caused the office of the U.S. President to evolve into something quite evil. Someone who rules for life after their election, selection or appointment is likely to become a dictator. Someone who has to be re-elected every four years is likely to bear in mind what the voting public wants and to do their best to deliver insomuch as they want to remain in office for as long as possible. Someone who is in their last term no longer needs to satisfy their constituency and is likely to do anything but. This allows a second-term president to wreak havoc on a politically inept public.

Eisenhower fought against dictatorship among other things and was the last of the “non-imperialist two-term-limited U.S. Presidents” – even if what he did opened the door for present-day U.S. Imperialism. I firmly believe that the horsemen of Revelation chapter 6 correspond with the two-term presidents since Eisenhower:

1 – Nixon went out conquering the political climate of his day and turning the office of the president into a vehicle which the wealthy and greedy could use to implement their evil agendas. Though one might point to acts of greed or corporatism that pre-date the Nixon administration, the early 1970's is when we went full-on with the fascistic marriage of government and corporations and with corporate greed. These acts amounted to giving to the wealthy; but, they weren't yet taking noticeable amounts from the poor.

2 – Reagan definitely was given power to make war. He was the last cold war president. I guess you can say that he caused us to “win” the cold war. He built up the military and funded it by cutting funding for social programs. Reaganomics caused inflation to increase exponentially. The higher prices, low wages and decreased social services made it more convenient for the poor to join the military which had just received their former social service dollars. Reagan even made it possible for the poor to get career training if they came home alive. He clearly took from the "non-militant poor".

3 – The third horseman was given a set of balances and went out saying, “A measure of wheat for a day's wages and two measures of barely for a day's wages”. This horseman was promoting low wages and inflation among other things – low ROI (return on investments) at all levels. Clinton implemented the “Welfare to Work” program which looks good on its face. However, the end result of that policy and other socio-economic conditions is a combination of hard work, continued low income and insufficient sustenance for the poor.

4 – That makes Bush 43 “Death”. While governor of Texas, he oversaw 119 executions, pardoning none. As president he used a personal vendetta against Hussein as the pretext for a war that killed hundreds of thousands of people, spent about a trillion dollars on the war industry that was nurtured to maturity by Reagan, decimated an oil-rich country and solidified the U.S. Government's image in other countries as the world bully. We also saw the death of the U.S. presidency insomuch as Cheney seemed to be more in control than Bush. They took the reins of world capitalism and ensured that the U.S. Government would control this destructive beast as much as is possible for any one government to do. It was toward the end of the Bush era that the economy went south in a big way. Bush began the bail-out process which gave ungodly amounts of money to the rich who'd already wasted their means like the prodigal son. He did this at the expense of the poor. Even with Bush 43 out of office, the beast of Capitalism continues to consume the poor.

5 – After mentioning the fourth horseman, scripture tells us that Hades followed close behind. With Bush 43's administration having taken the reins of the destructive super structure of world capitalism, the system of national, state and local governments is becoming more decadent, losing any sense of morality or direction and dying. That leaves Obama to either maintain the status quo or begin something new. It stands to reason that he's beginning something new and that it is so different from what we've known that it's implementation will feel like Hell on Earth for some people.

He's in his sixth year with about 30 months remaining. While he has maintained some of the hurtful policies of his predecessors, he is also known to be one of the softest and sweetest presidents in recent history. I've suspected for some time now that Obama would lord over the de-imperialization of the U.S. – that he would put an end to the practice of the U.S. Policing the world (whether or not that is his intent). That could be Hell for some. If his appointment of a Cuban descendant to the position of HUD secretary is any indication, he could want disadvantaged and oppressed people to advance socio-economically. (There are other political reasons for choosing Julian Castro to lead HUD.) That supposition is turned on its head when you consider how he has not contributed to the social uplift of Afro-Americans. Then again, as was quite clear in his most recent State of the Union address, he loves women as much or more so than I do. It's conceivable that he will do all he can by January 20, 2017 to take power from the men and give it to the women. While it would be Hell for wealthy men, it might cause more to be done for the poor.

There is a way to marry all of those possibilities – the social uplift of disadvantaged groups such as Blacks, women and poor immigrants as well as the end of U.S. Imperialism. After all, it's been more than 50 years since Eisenhower left office and it's been said that a U.S. President affects the country for 50 years after he leaves office. So, it stands to reason that the imperialism that U.S. victory in World War II made possible will now come to an end. That said, the end of U.S. Imperialism doesn't have to be a goal of Obama in order to happen.

On May 20th, 2009 Obama signed into law the HEARTH Act (Homeless Emergency Assistance, Rapid Transition to Housing). Cities and states that receive HUD funding must fully implement it by August 31, 2014 and begin to show decreases in homelessness by 2015. Obamacare elicited some sharp retorts from state governments. Some people went so far as to call Obama a Socialist (a title he should embrace now that he's in his second term). But the HEARTH Act got through, largely unnoticed. It could start a ripple effect that leads to the social uplift of many poor people. Let's hope.

Here in Washington, DC (the “belly of the beast” of capitalism), homelessness rose by 13% from January 2013 (6,859) to January 2014 (7,748). it has probably surpassed 8,000 in this city of +/- 650,000. Fortunately, Kristy Greenwalt who formerly worked for the U.S. Inter-agency Council on Homelessness (USICH) now heads the DC ICH. Given the circumstances, I can assure you that she'll “catch Hell” trying to bring DC up to par. Whether or not DC and various other cities and states succeed at decreasing homelessness, the attempts at implementation are bound to change the public and political discourses in a bigger way than the Occupy Movement did. This could be Hell for the rich. It could be the beginning of a Socialist or Communist revolution. Let's hope. Maybe it will start around the time of my 47th birthday (Feb. 15th, 2016) or sooner. Let's hope.

All of that brings me back to myself and my spiritual journey. Before I first experienced homelessness around Feb. 20th, 1994, I was working a dead-end job in Gainesville, FL. I was OK in this city that has been voted many times (at least 5) by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to be the best city to live in. In short, becoming homeless opened my eyes to the inequities, atrocities and social injustice in the world around me. It has caused me to think about the many things you've just read and to make these and other connections between world events, politics and what the Bible says – especially what it says about spiritual wickedness in high places. Since becoming homeless, I've improved my writing skills and become a public speaker. I often help people to apply age-old scriptures to the here and now. I present some tough logic that flies in the face of excuses that government might give for ignoring the poor. I seek to embolden the poor. All in all, I have become the embodiment of the thinking that is necessary to usher in a Socialist or Communist revolution with a Biblical-spiritual spin. After all, love for the poor is the only Biblical theme that holds fast from beginning to end.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,