It basically sucks to be homeless at any time, but imagine being homeless right now. Basic sanitation? Ha! Sheltering at home? It's a lot easier if you've got one.
In LA, the city's leased hotel rooms to house its homeless population, and about half have gone unused. Sometimes the homeless don't want officials' help, in part because they don't trust authorities, they're mentally ill, or they don't want to abide by whatever rules accompany that help.
We've got the same problems right here in SLO Town, where the large homeless population living along the Bob Jones Trail by Prado Road and the SLO Wastewater Treatment Plant were forced to vacate the unhygienic, trash-festooned area on May 18 after days earlier receiving a notification to vacate or be removed. Sure enough, the SLO Police Department, Park Rangers, and a hauling company showed up and cleared the encampment out. Anything the homeless folks couldn't carry was placed in bins, which could be picked up within 90 days, while tents, tarps, and trash were removed and discarded.
The removal order led to an epic throwdown by Becky Jorgeson, the founder and president of Hope's Village of SLO, whose organization is "working to build a sustainable community village for homeless veterans on the Central Coast," according to its website.
On May 15, she wrote a blistering letter claiming that "SLO has done nothing for people who live in tents or on the ground" and that the SLOPD illegally threatened to arrest those who wouldn't leave.
Jorgeson continued: "Following are formal charges being sent to the California Attorney General and the Southern California District of the ACLU on behalf of 30 homeless neighbors in SLO: Human and civil rights violations; defamation of character; no affordable housing; discrimination; police misconduct; hate crimes; lack of shelter for homeless people in our county as mandated by the state; suspending homeless folks from the only shelter and soup kitchen in town; lack of public showers as are set up in Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Cayucos, and Cambria. CDC guidelines for the safety of homeless people are not being followed in this pandemic."
Ay-ay-ay! Sic 'em, Beck-inator!
She also claimed, "SLO has made a business out of homelessness; careers depend on it. And it's high time for a change. For eight years, we've been trying to convince the powers that be in SLO that our unhoused folks living outside (who have been suspended or banned from Prado [Homeless Services Center]) need help, not harassment. SLO police officers are back to harassing people trying to eke out a living on the streets by rapping on their doors in the middle of the night, threatening arrest, and ticketing."
Guess who didn't like this characterization? Yeah, it was the SLOPD.
SLO Police Chief Deanna Cantrell wrote back, "Becky, Your understanding of the facts and conveyance of the information is not accurate," and then went on to explain all the options her department had given the homeless population, including shelter, "currently unused despite offers being made." Cantrell added, "We offered to pay for transportation and food [and] to re-connect them with loved ones."
Cantrell concluded with: "Your communication is incorrect, divisive, and unfortunate at a time when so many are working so hard to ensure the safety of our entire community."
Snap! Can't we all just get along? Nope!
Speaking of the po-po, file this in the slow and incomplete justice file, but on May 6, the dog-shooting SLO police officer Joshua Walsh was quietly put on administrative leave ... again ... eight months after the shooting on Sept. 6. City Attorney Christine Dietrick said the investigation is complete but we can't know what's in it because it's a confidential personnel investigation, see? Move along. Where's justice for Bubs, the pit bull/boxer mix shot in his driveway by trigger-happy Walsh? Why's Walsh on leave again and not fired?
Bubs' owners Nick Regalia and Riley Manford filed a claim for damages, which could lead to a lawsuit. They listed mental distress, post-traumatic stress, loss of wages, property damage, and more. Maybe they could get some of the more than $100K a year Walsh earns as a dog-murdering cowboy since they're also calling for his termination.
Meanwhile the SLOPD and city officials have continued to refuse to release Walsh's body-camera footage because ... I don't know, but if it exonerates Walsh, why the hell not? Is Walsh still collecting his pay on admin leave? Probably!
The FBI reported that Asian Americans are experiencing an increase in hate crimes. Seems like none are safe. A 2-year-old and 6-year-old were stabbed at a Texas Sam's Club by a man who told police he thought the family was Chinese and spreading the disease. Now COVID-19 racism has unsurpisingly reared its ugly head at Cal Poly. Members of the Chinese Student Association got Zoom-bombed during their video conference meeting by about 20 people who joined uninvited and used racial slurs and symbols to harass the group.
I'm 100 percent sure Dear Leader tRump's use of the term "Chinese virus" and his continual accusation of China's "incompetence" and holding the country accountable for "mass worldwide killing" had absolutely nothing to do with these overt racist acts. I'm just certain. Δ
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