Editorial Article by Jim Lantern
1:40 p.m. Pacific Time, Tuesday 1 September 2015
Up to a point, I agree with Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman: “All lives matter.”
Shannon J. Miles, whose criminal record includes convictions for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct with a firearm, was arraigned Monday 31 August 2015 for the murder of Darren Goforth, a 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. The arrest of Miles on Saturday came less than 24 hours after authorities said he ambushed Goforth at a suburban Houston Chevron station, shooting him in the back of the head, firing 15 shots into him.
After the white Houston sheriff’s deputy was ambushed and fatally shot by the black man at a gas station, the sheriff linked the killing to heightened tension over the treatment of African-Americans by police, citing the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
At a press conference Saturday afternoon 29 August 2015, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman explained that so far, they believe “dangerous national rhetoric” against police officers led to the seemingly unprovoked attack. “We’ve heard black lives matter. All lives matter. Well cops lives matter too. So why don’t we drop the qualifier and just say: Lives Matter. And take that to the bank.”
I agree: ALL lives matter. Lives matter. Yes, black lives matter, because ALL lives matter.
By the way, this is not to be confused with Glenn Beck’s “All Lives Matter” movement.
Clearly, police treat blacks different than whites. No doubt, most police believe some lives are more important than others – starting with their own of course.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” – George Orwell, author, Animal Farm.
“Some apes, it seems, are more equal than others.” – George Taylor, character played by Charlton Heston, in the 1968 movie Planet of the Apes.
A long ago friend of mine during some school years briefly served in the U.S. Marines and then became a police officer. He told me that while attending the police academy he learned what about what half of the police believe and are taught. “There are only two kinds of people – cops and criminals. No such thing as a good citizen. There are only two kinds of criminals – those who have been caught and those who are yet to be caught.”
It’s an “us and them” mentality.
There’s more to it than that.
While it is racial discrimination from one perspective, I see it as income discrimination from another perspective. Rich vs. poor.
We hear politicians talk about what they are going to do for the Middle Class, such as Democrats wanting to help the Middle Class by raising taxes the Upper Class, or the opposite by Republicans to lower taxes on the Upper Class in order for the Upper Class to help the Middle Class. We rarely hear them talking about what they will do for the Lower Class, except raise the minimum wage for low-income people, part-time workers, low-wage full-time workers. Also, no-income people, unemployed, on welfare. Some senior citizens, who are retired, are barely surviving on Social Security retirement benefits as their only source of income. Likewise people receiving Social Security disability benefits. There’s also homeless people.
Loss of affordable housing is now the number one cause of homelessness here in the United States. A new minimum income rule is shutting out low-income people. To rent an apartment a tenant must have a monthly net income of 3 times the monthly rent. So, for example, to rent an apartment for $500 per month, the tenant must have at least $1500 per month net income. It shuts out most people on Social Security disability benefits, some retired seniors on Social Security retirement benefits as only source of income, most part-time workers, and some low-wage full-time workers. It certainly shuts out no-income college students, people on unemployment, and people on welfare. The theory is low-income people produce most of the crime. Therefore, preventing low-income people from living in apartment complexes will reduce crime in those apartment complexes. Police have been pushing that new rule along with their Crime Free Lease Addendum forms for landlords and apartment managers to force tenants to sign. So income discrimination is legal, and is being used to discriminate against people who can’t legally be discriminated against in other ways. Even so, it basically assumes ALL low-income people are criminals or are potential criminals, and therefore should be treated as such – “those who have been caught and those who are yet to be caught.”
They take it a step further, to prevent people who have lost affordable housing to take up residence in low monthly rent kitchenette hotels and motels, as well as campground sites. This includes families with children, not just single men and single women who have become homeless. “Extended stay” is being reduced to 3 to 4 weeks maximum allowed per year by a new rule pushed by police and governments of cities, counties, and states.
It gets worse. In most cities it has become illegal to be out-on-the-street homeless. So if a homeless person is not staying in a homeless shelter, and is caught sleeping outside, then that person can be taken to jail – if refusing to go to a shelter – or if all shelters are already full – nowhere to go. So now a person can lose his home, become homeless, and be taken to jail to then have a criminal record. Houston, by the way, has a Homeless Outreach Team of police officers, as well as “Homeless Court” specifically for handling misdemeanor crimes of homeless persons. It is also becoming illegal to feed homeless people there, unless they are in a program and it is done by a legally recognized program service. Access to shelter beds is partly done by lottery. It’s still a supply and demand issue under the sinking ship rule of “women and children first” to the lifeboats. Single men can only get help from those charities who normally only help homeless men – such as Union Rescue Missions. The Salvation Army has shelters only for men, others only for women or families with children. Austin, I discovered, has become worse than Houston, or is in other ways just as bad. Housing is 98% occupancy there, so even if a homeless person gets housing aid from HUD or any other source, then there are no available affordable apartments to move into.
I was recently researching the situation in Houston, as I was looking for a warmer climate where I could spend the winter months as a soon-to-be homeless person.
The apartments complex where I lived for 7 years in Norman Oklahoma was sold and then scheduled to be bulldozed in August 2015. The new owner is building an expensive high-rise apartment building mainly for Oklahoma University students and employees. Loss of affordable housing in Norman Oklahoma forced me to expand my search to other cities in Oklahoma, and then cities of other states.
A USA Today article tipped me off to low monthly rent kitchenette motels in the downtown area of Reno Nevada. I happened to know one of the managers via Facebook. I arrived in Reno night of 4 May 2015 via Greyhound Bus. On my way to Reno, I encountered 5 other travelers doing the same thing for the same reason – loss of affordable housing – found low monthly rent kitchenette motels. Two got off in Salt Lake City, one at Reno with me, and two went on to Sacramento. Most of the people – singles, married couples, and families with children – living at the same motel as me, are there for the same reason – loss of affordable housing. Problem is, it’s a bad neighborhood and crime is high here. City of Reno and Reno Police are blaming the low-rent motels, so most have been shut down, and boarded up until the properties can be sold to other kinds of businesses – commercial and industrial. I also need to leave Reno for health reasons. I didn’t expect “cold air asthma” to be a serious problem, but having had it my first few nights in Reno, I know it could cause my death in Reno this winter, especially if I were to become homeless here. No shelters for men – just a meal per day at a nearby charity – feeds about 1500 homeless people in Reno per day.
Continuing my search, I found a place in some ways similar to the old original version of the YMCA – Young Men’s Christian Association. One of the long-ago services was to provide “two hots and a cot” (a bed at night with dinner and breakfast) for a low charge, so that traveling Christian men could have a safe, clean, and low-cost place to stay at night. The church charity shelter I’m going to does help no-income homeless people, but for people like me on SSD benefits it’s about $10 per night for a bunk bed and 3 meals per day plus other services – shower and laundry, or $90 per week for a private room with a bed in it (if any are available).
I’ll be using about $200 of my $851 SSD direct deposit on 3 September 2015 to buy a Greyhound Bus ticket for going down to Corpus Christi, Texas. That will leave at least $600 after other travel expenses (beverages and food during the 2-days journey) for me to pay rent and live on until next SSD direct deposit on or about October 2nd. The shelter will cost me $360 if paying weekly, or about $270 of paying nightly, but will include meals, showers, laundry. So after rent paid, that will leave me with about $240 to $330 for all other needs.
$100 of that will be used to open an account to move SSD direct deposit from the bank in Reno to a bank in Corpus Christi, but then I’ll have access to that money via new debit card. I also need to move SNAP and Medicaid from Nevada to Texas by end of this month. I need Medicaid to pay the $104 Medicare premium so it is not deducted from my $851 SSD benefits. I’m planning to buy a bicycle at Walmart there for basic local transportation. Also buy some clothing more appropriate for the climate and weather there. I must live in Texas for at least 30 days before I can get a Texas ID. My Oklahoma ID expires on 31 October 2015 – Halloween, and then I become a ghost of me. I’ll register to vote there as an Independent unaffiliated voter – I average out to be a Centrist.
The shelter has a separate building for church services, which I’ll probably attend. I’m “more spiritual than religious” as a basic Universalist Christian.
I hope to find an affordable furnished studio apartment (rent to include all utilities) by end of this year, or maybe find a roommate deal with the right person for a two-bedroom apartment. I’m age 59 now – turn 60 on 5 March 2016, so I expect to spend the rest of my life at Corpus Christi, if all goes well.
ALL lives matter. It’s something to believe in. Something to hope for. A goal for humans. Even so, it is far from being the working reality of the world we presently live in.
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