Showing posts with label police. Show all posts
Showing posts with label police. Show all posts

Thursday, June 12, 2014

All Was Quiet

I have my favorite spot to sleep at night.  It affords me as much privacy and safety as I can hope for considering it is just a section of concrete sidewalk.

I remember, several years ago in Nashville, this guy whose head was bashed in with a hammer as he slept.  I’m hoping to avoid a similar fate.   There is just enough room for me to fit my backpack and my head between two solid pieces of metal comfortably. Although my legs extend out into the sidewalk, it’s a very wide sidewalk and most people walk on the far side of it anyway.  I won’t be tripping anyone as they walk, even if they don't recognize that a person is there.  Besides, there are another dozen or so people doing the same sort of thing along this one city block.

I also made sure that the sleeping bag I recently bought was long enough to cover me entirely.  Although it gets uncomfortably warm to do so, I can cover myself completely within the bag.   The less of me that people can see, the less vulnerable I feel.  Next month, when I can afford to collect some more necessities, I’m getting a small tent.  I think it will go a long way towards getting a better nights sleep.   Ah, but that’s 3 weeks away.

I dread having to leave whatever I’m doing, usually internet surfing, so to bed down for the night, that part of me wants to put it off as long as possible. I also worry that if I arrive at my spot too late someone else might get it, and I’ll have to go looking for another spot. That would be a hassle, as well potentially unsafe. I have been going to bed earlier and earlier each night.

I awoke several times during the night.  Either I was in an uncomfortable position and needed to adjust, or someone was making noise, or I had to urinate.  Now, back when I was in the shelter tent, it was strictly forbidden to pee in a bottle.   The problem there was the portajohns were at least 100 yards away.  Having to get up and make that trek was difficult at times.  Some times I didn’t quite make it in time. Ah, but on the street, I can pee in a bottle all I want. I don’t even need to get up. I just grab the bottle, bring it under the sleeping bag, and hope there’s no spillage.

In the middle of the night last night something completely different woke me up.  It was the police.  Well, it was the sound of a police radio. Cops were standing near by.  I thought, “great, we are having a sweep”.  Should I get up and just leave, hoping they would leave me alone if did?

Then I started listening to the conversation one cop was having on the polioe radio.  They seemed to be focused on just one individual.  I then wondered if I  would be next.

But this homeless woman they were talking to didn’t seem right.  She was babbling on in spanish.  They were having a hard time understanding her.  The way she carried on, she may not have been understanding herself.

The cop asked her, “where’d you get that bump on your head’?   Did you fall, or did someone hit you?   Can you stand up? (she couldn’t).  Have you been drinking?”  She kept saying something bout her husband.  From where I was it was mostly inaudible.  Then I could hear the siren of an ambulance getting nearer.  All this was going on without me being able to see anything, being that I was covered.

Again I wondered if the cops would approach me next.  But after the woman was put into the ambulance and the paramedics packed up their gear and drove away, the sound of police radio faded away as well.  And I fell asleep again.  When I awoke hours later, all was quiet.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Good Morning San Diego

6 cop cars idling for an hour burning up gas, 12 cops paid an average of 30 dollars an hour, all to roust a half dozen homeless people from their sleep at 6:30am. Seems like these resources could have been better spent catching real criminals.  Actually for the 300 to 500 dollars this police action cost, these 6 homeless people could have been put up in a decent hotel for the night.

Remember that these police actions are not done to help the homeless but as a a public relations stunt to show the few complaining constituents, (mostly the land developers looking to get rich by investing in the area), that the police are "doing something about it."

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Best Food For Homeless People

What is the best food to feed to homeless people?

At first is sounds like an odd question, perhaps even a bit rude.   But then considering the conditions in which homeless people live, there are some things that should be taken into account.

The Food Pyramid is the best place to start.   Fruits and vegetables, the natural foods rich in vitamins and minerals, are most needed.  Meat and bread, not so much.   But this is all common sense.

Homeless people are humans!

LOL, yes, it is a silly statement, but you'd be surprised by the number of people who think of the homeless as something less. But, when it comes to food, what is healthy for one human is more than likely healthy for all humans. AND health concerns are equally represented in the homeless population.

There are some special dietary needs of the homeless that people feeding the homeless should consider.
  • Hydration - More than anything else, homeless people need water, and plenty of it.  The usual drinks, coffee, beer, colas, etc., are all diuretics, meaning that they dehydrate people.   Forget the sodas and energy drinks and caffeine and stick with good ol' water, especially in hot weather. (reusable bottles are best)
  • Soft foods are preferred - Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that homeless people have little access to good dental care, and because of this their teeth are not in the best shape.  Many homeless are missing teeth, and what few remain are broken jagged remnants. Foods that are hard, or require a lot of chewing, are often passed over by the homeless.
  • Vitamin B12 - Alcoholism causes vitamin deficiencies, most especially vitamin B12, a lack of which can cause serious brain damage. Other deficiencies caused by alcoholism are, Folate, Vitamin A, and Calcium.  Foods high in these vitamins are best for homeless people.
  • Conveniency - If you do not have a kitchen and dining facility in which to properly prepare and serve food, it is best to make the food as travel friendly as possible.   Canned and processed foods are unhealthy, but they can be easily carried in backpacks.  Also, considering that homeless people do not have proper storage facilities (no pantry or refrigerator), it is best to not overload the homeless with too much food.  The food will likely go bad before it is consumed and will be wasted.
  • Availability - Funding is a major consideration when feeding the homeless.  The cost of food must be weighed against the number of people being served.   This makes it all the more important to be creative in developing food sources, and you might be surprised at who would be willing to donate food and other goods to your project.   Grocery stores are often willing to donate fruits and vegetables that are still good but have cycled out, bakeries often donate day old bread, even Starbucks has been known to donate unsold pastries and coffee beans, etc. 
Independent groups and individuals wanting to feed the homeless should be warned about one thing in particular.   More and more cities are requiring that people use codes-approved facilities that have been inspected by the city, in preparing the food that is served.   If you set up in a city park or on a sidewalk near where the homeless congregate, expect to receive a visit from the police.   Even if you have not broken any laws, the police may attempt to intimidate you, to get you to stop feeding the homeless.   There is a misguided belief that feeding homeless people actually creates homelessness.  Of course this isn't true, but that won't stop the police from trying to shut down your feeding program.  THE MORE COMMUNITY AND POLITICAL SUPPORT YOU ARE ABLE TO GENERATE FOR YOUR WORK WITH THE HOMELESS, THE LESS LIKELY THE POLICE, OR OTHERS, WILL BOTHER YOU.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Ruse

So, it was announced recently that "some group" of people were offering homeless people a one way ticket out of town. Obviously they are kind-hearted folks just giving homeless people a hand. Certainly this isn't some expedient measure to rid Nashville of homeless people.

Well, I talked to a few homeless people yesterday and this is what they told me. To receive the free Greyhound bus ticket to the destination of your choice, all the homeless person has to do is make an appointment with some Lieutenant at the downtown police headquarters, and he will give you the ticket. Of course while there he will run a background check on you. So, if you have any kind of ourstanding charge or warrant against you, instead of a free trip out of town, you receive a free trip to jail.

On the surface, you may think nothing wrong with this procedure. But lets dig deeper. For almost a decade now, the police of Nashville have been cranking up the pressure on homeless people - believing that if they made life more difficult for the homeless, the homeless would either choose to no longer be homeless, or would leave town. Considering that Nashville's homeless population has only risen during this period, one would think (if one was given to thinking) that this approach was ineffective. Of course their thinking leads them to believe that only more of the same, increasing the same, would eventually do the trick. Lord knows they could never admit to possibly being wrong about the benefits of this approach.

The result of the many years of pressuring and harassing the homeless has resulted in nearly every single homeless person having a criminal background. The crimes they are charged with? Oh, littering, blocking sidewalk traffic with their possessions, sleeping in alcoves just off the sidewalk (for the small protection from the elements and street predators such alcoves afford), etc.

One of the overarching paradigms that homeless people live by (the majority of the homeless anyway) is a disregard for society in general. They just don't care what others think of them, they have no desire to conform to social edicts. This is but one of the reasons why homeless people do not respond the way hoped for when the police and others harass and pressure the homeless.

So, some police officer writes a homeless person a ticket for loitering. The homeless person is just as likely to use that piece of paper to roll a cigarette with, wipe his bum with, as to actually take heed. Well, the law requires that a person respond to tickets that are issued to them. If they do not, a judge will issue a warrant for that person to be brought before the judge to answer for the crime they are charged with. Because homeless people are very unlikely to answer for such charges as littering, they will have a warrant placed on them. And, even if the homeless person were to go before the judge and answer as to why they committed the crime, the result would be court costs being assigned to the homeless person, in addition to "paying" for their original crime. And homeless people just don't have that kind of money to pay court costs, which could easily amount to hundreds of dollars. And failure to pay court costs will result in yet another warrant being placed on the homeless person for failure to pay.

And being that most homeless people don't like going to jail, the result of all of this is predictable. Very few homeless people are going to come forward to request the bus ticket out of town. Except for those few who know they do not have any pending charges against them, or are just not that bright.

For this idea to really work, the people fronting the money for the bus tickets should move the program to one of Nashville's homeless service providers. And allow that service provide to determine the actual homeless situation and need of the individual, and have them distribute the bus tickets.

Doesn't that make more sense? Is it really helping anything to fill the jails with homeless people?

Well, much of the jail system in Nashville has been privatized. And so there are some people motivated to keep the jails as full as possible, so to increase their profit margin....could that be the real motivation behind all this? hmmmm.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Law De-Da

I know that there are some people who are law fanatics. They never really met a law, or a rule, they didn't like. Some people would call this type of person a "control freak." They aren't happy, or content, unless they are in control of every little thing other people do. And, they have this uncontrollable urge to find themselves "right" all the time. Really, they just fear being found wrong. To be wrong about something, anything, is a sign of weakness, or imperfection. And since authority figures are the ones usually making the rules they kiss up to authority at every opportunity, so to be on the side of the "right." It seems like a very sad life.

There are two types of people, those who favor the letter of the law, and those who favor the spirit of the law. I am a spirit-of-the-law kind of guy. To me, there has to be a good reason for a law, other than just that it is a law. Speeding in your car is dangerous, and can kill people, including yourself. So laws against speeding have a good purpose. On the other hand, rules like those that prohibit sleeping in the library are suspect. Sleeping in the library offends no one, and threatens no one, and thus there is no real good reason for it. It is known that certain homeless frequent the library. And it is the homeless how suffer the most from issues relating to sleep deprivation. So it is that it is almost always homeless people who fall asleep in the library. And it is to homelessness of a person who has fallen asleep in the library. If it were well dressed people and obviously not homeless, who were falling asleep in the library, then no such rule would exist. And there are other rules of the public library system that are only enforced against homeless people. It used to be that bags over a certain size were not allowed to carried into the library, and when a homeless person broke that law, he was told to take the bag back outside. All the while, business people, and students were bringing bags and other items that exceeded the limits of this rule yet nothing was ever said to these people. From the library's tactics as well as the police - the police were busting homeless people for their bags because supposedly their bags were blocking the right of way of pedestrians - the homeless no longer carry larger bags with them. It's now been some time since I've seen the library enforce the bag size rule.

As a side note, the homeless have been forced to stop carrying all their belongings with them, which means they now have to hide their belongings wherever they can. And it often happens that their things are found by others and either stolen or thrown away. Such loss of property is very damaging to the homeless, making it all that much harder for them to overcome their homelessness.