Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Street Roots Hits The Nail on the Head - Damn The Torpedoes"

Editorial: So much happens and nothing changes


February 18, 2010 · 2 Comments
The story goes: Police shoot an unarmed individual. The district attorney handpicks evidence, often without key witnesses. The grand jury declines to indict¬. The community responds with sadness, then anger. The police say they need more money to correct the problem. City Hall does damage control. The media delivers the play-by-play. The community speaks of coalition building. A series of rallies happen. City Hall and the police get sued in civil court. The city doles out hundreds of thousands of dollars to the victims family. Ultimately, nothing changes.

What makes the shooting of Aaron Cambell different? We’re not sure anything. Street Roots has been around for 11-years. In that time, four unarmed individuals have been shot and killed in controversial scenarios by the Portland Police Bureau.

Of course, with both Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton becoming involved, the energy does seem higher. Both the Mental Health Association of Portland, and the Portland Skanner have come out and said to their communities that in a time of crisis, don’t call the police. That’s pretty bold. And to be honest, Street Roots doesn’t disagree.

For many years, regardless of violence, SR has worked to take care of its own problems, knowing full well that if the police are involved, there’s a chance something bad may occur. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t call the police at times (very rarely), or have an open relationship with them, or respect officers, because we do. But the reality is the bureau treats us more as adversaries than as an organization that works to stabilize poor folk on street corners.

Take the case of Sisters Of The Road, which is more or less being targeted by the police (see our front page story on the situation). The organization has been reprimanded by the bureau for having too many calls for service to their corner, and for the drug activity in Old Town around the block it inhabits. After 30 years of service helping the people who need help the most, at a time when drugs and violence on the streets are as bad or worse than when Sisters opened, it is now all Sisters’ fault. The organization is under a screw, yet there is no public oversight of the police and City Hall which has lost control of what the bureau does.

Stakeout operations on the homeless for infractions such as jaywalking. Moving poor people from one hot spot to another when the needed housing doesn’t exist. City Hall that time and again backs down to the police while people’s civil rights are ignored, knowing full well that criminal records are a major reason why many people can’t access housing. The list goes on and on. And honestly, down here on the block, no one is listening to the message anymore — not on these issues anyway.

How does this relate to Aaron Campbell? We are all connected, yet as we choose to act in a vacuum, all of our communities are ignored, discredited and harped upon for calling the shots as we see them.

What we see is a city that continues to target the homeless, minorities, the mentally ill, and in this case, an individual who was shot in the back and left for up to 40 minutes before medical responders are called in, long after the individual is dead. With this attitude you are more or less saying to us we are animals. And we’re damn tired of it. We want a fair playing field. We want peace. And we want justice.


2 responses so far ↓

Candice comments // February 19, 2010 at 10:07 am
Well said.

joe anybody comments // February 24, 2010 at 10:10 am

Excellent summary and assessment.
The wheel just keeps spinning around.
We want Change, Respect, Dignity, Civil Rights, and Justice. (not more spin)

It seems the city / police are at direct odds with the poor and those needing “help” in Portland.

Where is our city leaders going to “lead us?”
If it is not down a road to Justice & Peace then, lets be really clear….. “I’m Not Going!”

Damn the torpedo’s!

I stand in the light by my brothers and sisters.

If the city leadership and the police are against us (we the people) and continue to harass, jail and kill those who wont “do as they say” it leaves us all with one obvious option … and its not a good one.

But at least it will be crystal clear: “What side you are on?” ….and for me it is a “no brainier!”

This all is certainly a tragedy, and is compounded even worse when leaders and authority criminalize & IGNORE the people they were hired to serve and protect. Respect was once considered to be a two way street.

“Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

Leave a Comment on Street Roots Website Here:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Homeless Vet - Written by Vietnam Vet

Homeless Vet In America

In war,
what happens in the field,
stays in the field.
It never happened.
Everything is a cover up,
to protect the public back home.
As the years go by,
veterans become homeless in the mind.
Their lives become classified,
to make room for the next generation.
It's all about lies,
and the betrayal that destroyed a generation.
A Vietnam vet friend hung himself in a motel room.
Another one died homeless on the streets.
Then there was the unexplained car accident that
killed another vet friend.
All of them had honorable discharges from the military.
All of them dishonorably destroyed by the U.S. Government.
Everything is a cover up.
What happens after the war,
stays in the field.
It never happened.
The whole war was a war crime.
That is the deep dark secret that absolutely
has to be kept from the American public.
Here rests in silence,
an American veteran know but to God.

Mike Hastie
U.S. Army Medic
Vietnam 1970-71
February 10, 2010

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Homelessness Doesn't Have to Be a Death Sentence by Noah Jennings

Homelessness Doesn't Have to Be a Death Sentence
by Noah Jennings

categories: Health, Innovation, Stories From The Streets

Published February 02, 2010 @ 04:24PM PT

As I write this post, I spot a client across the street who will likely die soon. All the signs point to this possibility: the substance abuse issues, an absent network of support, a fear of shelters and closed spaces because of trauma, being HIV positive, the cold winter -- the list goes on. All this fits with what we know about homelessness: for many people, it's fatal.

If that's not shocking, please read it again: when you see the chronically homeless, you're very likely looking at someone who's dying. That's not melodrama. It's fact.

Because of this, I was positively thrilled to read about new efforts in Hartford, Connecticut. There, as in an increasing number of cities, outreach workers have made use of the Vulnerability Index, a method of strengthening support for the homeless by targeting those who need help immediately.

What's happening in Hartford is inspiring. There, armed with questionnaires and a willingness to make real contact with their clients, outreach workers set out to find homeless people and ask about health history, resources, times homeless and so on. All of this is done with an eye toward determining how dangerous it is for each individual to be on the streets. This evidenced-based approach can influence the number of nights a client is offered at a given shelter, or may even result in the homeless person securing housing more quickly.

Those utilizing the Index have discovered that many of their homeless are without housing "comma-but." In other words, there are resources available to them (comma but) they don't know about them. Some of the examples might include a veteran who only needs transportation to the Veterans Affairs office to complete that final interview, or a disabled woman who, with the right advocacy, could get her benefits and a housing voucher more quickly. Imagine it: more homeless could get housed if we put resources into finding out what precisely they need to stay alive.

And that's what's revolutionary about the Vulnerability Index. By placing homelessness within the context of public health, it makes the need to strengthen communication with street communities one of dire consequence.

If you're surprised this isn't already implemented everywhere, I share your disbelief. The truth is that much of what we do for the homeless isn't based on evidence or direct feedback from clients. It's best guesses all around. That plus the lack of awareness among the general population that homelessness is in large part a public health issue means that the people who need help most are the people most often left behind. But if we're to believe the statistics, use of the Vulnerability Index is a reform we can't afford to ignore. One study notes that the average age of death for those without shelter is just 48.

What this means is that if you're homeless for too long in America, you can expect to die about 30 years before your time. Whether that remains a reality is up to us.

If you're interested in introducing the Vulnerability Index to your community, please check out the resources at Common Ground here:

Monday, February 01, 2010

Homeless Sit Lie Sharing Sidewalks Discussions / Advisory

Host: The Sit/Lie Ordinance is Unconstitutional. Really. Stop Trying To Fix It.
Type: Meetings - Business Meeting
Network: Global
Date: Monday, February 1, 2010
Time: 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Location: Portland Building, Second Floor Room C

Description It appears that the city is going to have an ongoing advisory committee about sidewalk use. I am not sure who is on the committee, but these are public meetings so please make sure you attend if you are able and willing to make your voice heard.

The email from Commisoner Amanda Fritz's Office:

Good afternoon,

I hope you are able to attend the Sharing Public Sidewalks Advisory Committee, which will be held this coming Monday, February 1st, 2010 from 3:30 - 5:00 pm in Room C on the second floor of the Portland Building, located at 1120 SW 5th Ave. Meetings will continue to be on the first Mondays at this time and location, until the group decides we no longer need to meet so frequently. The agenda for this meeting is attached, along with the notes from the previous meeting. If you notice errors or omissions, please tell me before the meeting.

Also attached to this email is the Sidewalk Management Plan Resolution, which was adopted by City Council on October 21, 2009. The Sidewalk Management Plan outlines the City's multi-faceted approach to ensure safe and useable sidewalks for everyone.

Please let me know by email or phone (503-823-3994) if you or a delegate will not be able to attend this meeting. Commissioner Fritz very much appreciates your participation.

Sara Hussein, MPA