MAKING A CRIME OUT OF
BEING POOR & HOMELESS

By: S.R. Shearer
May 31, 2009

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation..

- Matthew 23:13-14

INTRODUCTION

Economist Mike Whitney reports:

"Retail sales fell in March [2009] as soaring job losses and tighter credit conditions forced consumers to cut back sharply on discretionary spending. Nearly every sector saw declines including electronics, restaurants, furniture, sporting goods and building materials. Auto sales continued their historic nosedive despite aggressive promotions on new vehicles and $13 billion of aid from the federal government. The crash in housing, which began in July 2006, accelerated on the downside in March, falling 19 percent year-over-year, signaling more pain ahead.

Blue line - 1990 recession; red line - 2001 recession; green line - current recession. Plainly, the job losses in the current recession are much worse and far steeper than anything most people who are alive today have ever experienced.

"Mortgage defaults are rising and foreclosures in 2009 are estimated to be in the 2.1 million range, an uptick of 400,000 from 2008. Consumer spending is down, housing is in a shambles, and industrial output dropped at an annual rate of 20 percent, the largest quarterly decrease since VE Day (1945). The systemwide contraction continues unabated with no sign of letting up."

Whitney continues:

"Conditions in the broader economy are now vastly different than those on Wall Street, where the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrials have rallied for 5 weeks straight regaining more than 25 percent of earlier losses. Fed chief Ben Bernanke's $13 trillion in monetary stimulus has triggered a rebound in the stock market while Main Street continues to languish on life-support waiting for Obama's $787 billion fiscal stimulus to kick in and compensate for falling demand and rising unemployment. The rally on Wall Street indicates that Bernanke's flood of liquidity is creating a bubble in stocks since present values do not reflect underlying conditions in the economy. THE FUNDAMENTALS HAVEN'T BEEN THIS BAD SINCE THE 1930s."

OBAMA'S TALK OF A RECOVERY IS JUST
THAT - TALK WITH NO SUBSTANCE TO IT

Jim Cramer

Whitney goes on to report:

"The financial media is abuzz with talk of a recovery as equities inch their way higher every week. CNBC's Jim Cramer, the hyperventilating ringleader of 'Fast Money', announced last week, 'I am pronouncing the depression is over'. Cramer and his clatter of media cheerleaders ignore the fact that every sector of the financial system is now propped up with Fed loans and T-Bills without which the fictive free market would collapse in a heap."

Economist Edward Harrison agrees; he says:

"This is a fake recovery because the underlying systemic issues in the financial sector are being papered over through various mechanisms designed to surreptitiously recapitalize banks while monetary and fiscal stimulus induces a rebound before many banks' inherent insolvency becomes a problem. This means the banking system will remain weak even after recovery takes hold. THE LIKELY RESULT OF THE WEAK SYSTEM WILL BE A RELAPSE INTO DEPRESSION-LIKE CIRCUMSTANCES ONCE THE TEMPORARY SALVE OF STIMULUS HAS WORN OFF."

Run on Union Bank during the Great Depression (1931); Run on Indymac (2008)

Whitney states the obvious:

"The rally in the stock market will not fix the banking system, slow the crash in housing, patch-together tattered household balance sheets, repair failing industries or reverse the precipitous decline in consumer confidence ... MEANWHILE, THE UNEMPLOYMENT LINES CONTINUE TO SWELL, THE FOOD BANKS CONTINUE TO RUN DRY AND THE HOMELESS SHELTERS CONTINUE TO BURST AT THE SEAMS."

Soup kitchens during the Great Depression; soup kitchens today

THE STUNNING RATE OF FORECLOSURES
IN THE UNITED STATES TODAY

Stephanie Armour of USA Today elaborates on the foreclosure rate:

"The number of homeowners facing foreclosure surged in March as lenders lifted temporary moratoriums and resumed legal actions against delinquent mortgage payers. Foreclosure filings - default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions - were reported on 341,180 properties in March, 46% more than a year ago and 17% above February's total, RealtyTrac reports today."

The sharp increase in foreclosures comes despite the Obama administration's best efforts to stem the tide. The fact is, all the "Happy talk" of a recovery by the current administration, has had NO effect on the foreclosure rate in the United States - and this despite some very boorish and underhanded attempts by cheerleaders of the Obama Administration and the mainline media to jigger the statistics on home foreclosures.

THE HELL OF FORECLOSURE: Mary Trody watches U.S President Barack Obama during his speech before Congress on a television set as her son Sylvester sleeps in the van she and her family are living in; the van is parked in front of their foreclosed home.

Alan Zibel concurs with what Armour reported; he writes:

"The number of American households threatened with losing their homes grew 24 percent in the first three months of this year (2009), and is poised to rise further as major lenders restart foreclosures after a temporary break, according to data released Thursday."

This is pretty much what Amour had to say. The Pew Charitable Trust echoes both Zibel and Amour; it reports that -

"One in 33 homeowners is projected to be in foreclosure primarily over the next two years, as a result of subprime loans made in 2005 and 2006. In some states, the outlook is especially grim; for instance, nearly one in 11 homeowners in Nevada is projected to be in foreclosure, and one in 18 Arizona homeowners may face the same circumstance over the next two years.

"Homeowners being foreclosed upon may not be the only homeowners affected, according to data cited in the report. An additional 40 million neighboring homeowners may see their property values and their municipalities' tax bases drop by as much as $356 billion, largely over the next two years."

Eviction notices being served during the Great Depression - which led to riots. Eviction notices being served today - and like the 1930s, riots may follow soon.

Zibel continues, bringing the focus up to the first three months of this year:

"The faltering economy is causing the housing crisis to spread. Nationwide, nearly 804,000 homes received at least one foreclosure-related notice from January through March, up from about 650,000 in the same time period a year earlier, according to RealtyTrac Inc., a foreclosure listing firm. During the quarter, Ohio was the state with the seventh highest number of homes seeing foreclosure activity with about 31,600 receiving at least one filing, up 1 percent from a year earlier.

"In March, more than 340,000 properties were affected nationwide, up 17 percent from February and 46 percent from a year earlier. Ohio had 12,600 homes receiving foreclosure notices during the month, 12 percent more than during March 2008."

PLAINLY, NOT SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION HAS THE RATE OF FORECLOSURES BEEN SO HIGH - AND, AS THE DATA INDICATES, THE RATE IS INCREASING - despite the "jerry-rigged" statistics that the government and the mainline media are fraudulently churning out (see below).

MILLIONS OF AMERICANS
HAVE BECOME HOMELESS

As a result of all this, millions of Americans have, as it were, been "thrown out into the streets" - a reality that the government has studiously tried to hide, largely by "jerry-rigging" the way homelessness is reported in the United States.

For example, a recent report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported (believe it or not) a 12 percent drop in homelessness nationally in two years, from about 754,000 in January 2005 to 666,000 in January 2007; but this drop was affected by a change in the way HUD reported homelessness: The 2007 numbers omitted people who previously had been considered homeless - such as those staying with relatives or friends, or living in campgrounds, or motel rooms for more than a week. [One cannot help but wonder, if these people were left out, who, exactly was it that HUD was counting.]


PLEASE LISTEN TO THE FOLLOWING NPR REPORT
ON COUNTING THE HOMELESSNESS

[This report was made BEFORE
the current uptick in homelessness]


NPR blames the low count on politics; THE ACTUAL NUMBER OF HOMELESS PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES, OF COURSE, IS IN THE MILLIONS AND MILLIONS, AND MILLIONS - a fact that even the government with all of its "slight of hand" is finding it increasingly difficult to hide.

THE FIRST STOP FOR THOSE WHO
BECOME HOMELESS: THE RELATIVES

Moving in with the relatives; the first stop on the long road downward for those who have lost their homes as a result of job loss and foreclosure.

The first stop for those who have been "thrown out into the streets" is usually the home of a relative, most often grown children returning to live with their parents - which usually leads to an emotional EXPLOSION, with the children eventually being forced out and "on their way." Health Publications reports on a typical situation:

"'I love my grown kids', Suzanne says. 'When my daughter Nancy ... [lost her home] and she couldn't afford to rent an apartment, I welcomed her home - along with her 4-year-old Suzi. There didn't seem to be an alternative. Yet now I know I made an enormous mistake. Nancy wasn't the child or teen we raised, but an adult. She resented any suggestions I made. I resented being viewed as a built-in baby-sitter so Nancy could do what she wished. I also felt that if she and Suzi lived here, she should be taking the responsibility of more than just keeping her own room clean and caring for Suzi. I soon realized that there was a whole lot more work with them here, in addition to changes in meals and sleeping hours. When alimony started coming in, I finally had to tell Nancy we'd all be happier if she and Suzi lived elsewhere. I still see her shocked, hurt look, but coping with them kept me upset most of the time. It just didn't work out well'."

There is, of course, the opposite phenomenon: Parents moving in with children; then there is the matter of one sibling seeking shelter with another - along with his / or her kids; ALL WITH THE SAME EMOTIONAL EXPLOSIONS.

As a result, these situations usually don't last very long - and the homeless are forced into taking the next step in their descent down into the HELL of homelessness: MOVING INTO A MOTEL.

TRYING TO MAKE A "GO OF IT" IN A MOTEL ROOM

Many Americans who have been forced out of their homes have managed to find refuge in squalid motels in the seedy part of town. Erik Eckholm reports on the fate of one such family in Costa Mesa, California:

"Greg Hayworth, 44, made a good living in his home state, California, from real estate and mortgage finance. Then that business crashed, and early last year the bank foreclosed on the house he was renting, forcing his family's eviction. Now the Hayworths and their three children represent the new face of homelessness in Orange County: formerly middle income families living week to week in a cramped motel room. 'I owe it to my kids to get out of here', Hayworth said, recalling the night they saw a motel neighbor drag a half-naked woman out the door while he beat her.

"The Hayworths tried staying with relatives; but after a while, their welcome went sour, and they ended up last September at the Costa Mesa Motor Inn, one of more than 1,000 families estimated to be living in motels in Orange County alone. The family, which includes a 15-year-old daughter, shares a single room and sleeps on two beds. With most possessions in storage, they eat in two shifts, on three borrowed plates - all that one jammed cabinet can hold. His wife has health problems and, like many other families, they cannot muster the security deposit and other upfront costs of renting a new place - let alone pass a credit check."

The Hayworths trying to make a go of it in a motel

Navarro and daughter

Then there is the story of Paris Andre Navarro, 47. According to Eckholm, she and her husband used to have good jobs and an apartment in Garden Grove, near Anaheim. But they have spent the last three years with their 11-year-old daughter in the El Dorado Inn. The bottom fell out for Paris when her husband's medical problems forced him to leave his job as a computer technician and her home-care job ended. They were evicted and moved into the motel, and she started working the night shift at Target.

Last year, when Ms. Navarro's husband started a telemarketing job, they thought they might escape. That hope evaporated when her hours at Target were cut in half.  What with the $241 weekly rent, the cost of essentials and a $380 car payment, they cannot save. "Now we're just living paycheck to paycheck," Ms. Navarro said. Their daughter, Crystal, tries to sound stoical. "What I miss most is having a pet," she said. The motel does not allow pets, so she gave away her cat and kittens.

NOTE: Kari Lydersen of CorpWatch says:

"A survey by the UFCW found that starting wages are similar in Targets and Wal-Marts -- possibly higher overall at Wal-Marts - and that Target benefits packages are often harder to qualify for and less comprehensive. (Target's media relations department refused to comment on its wages and benefits policies; individual wages and benefits policies are not included in their annual report.) 'We know that Target and Wal-Mart are constantly checking each other out and seeing how cheap they can get by', says a UFCW statement on the website Targetunion.org, urging Target employees around the country to post their wages.

"A Target employee who asked that his name and store location be kept secret said he can barely make ends meet on his salary of $8.40 an hour. 'After three years, I have received less than $1 an hour in raises. I started at $7.65', said the worker, adding that he does love his job because of camaraderie with his co-workers. 'We are never compensated and rarely even recognized for meeting our goals'. The starting wage he describes would put a single parent with two kids working full time at Target just slightly above the poverty line; someone with more children or working fewer hours would fall below the poverty line. Compare that to Target CEO Robert Ulrich, who earned $23.1 million in 2005, according to Forbes, making him the second-highest paid CEO in the retail sector. That's more than 1300 times as much as the worker we spoke to."

Working at Target or Wal-Mart at $7.65 an hour (full time), and paying what Navarro paid (above) leaves about $300 for everything else including food for a month - after deducting social security, state and local taxes (no federal tax) and other payroll deductions.

Concerning the plight of poor families working at stores like Wal-Mart and Target while living in a motel, Barbara Ehrenreich writes:

"I didn't live in any ghettoes (meaning a cheap motel) when I worked on Nickel and Dimed --a trailer park, yes, but no ghetto -- and on my average wage of $7 an hour, or about $14,400 a year, I wasn't in the market for furniture, a house or a car. But the high cost of poverty was brought home to me within a few days of my entry into the low-wage life, when, slipping into social-worker mode, I chastised a co-worker for living in a motel room when it would be so much cheaper to rent an apartment. Her response: Where would she get the first month's rent and security deposit it takes to pin down an apartment? The lack of that amount of capital -- probably well over $1,000 -- condemned her to paying $40 a night at the Day's Inn."

NOTE: Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of 13 books, most recently Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream.

TRYING TO LIVE IN ONE'S CAR

Then there is the matter of trying to live in one's car, which is the next step down toward hell that the poor are forced to take.

Ian Urbina writes concerning one such "unfortunate:"

"After being evicted from his apartment last year, Larry Chaney lived in his car for five months in Erie, Pa. As he passed the time at local cafes, he always put a ring of old house keys and several envelopes with bills on the table to give the impression that he had a home like everyone else."

There is also -

  • Richard Pyne and his daughter, Kristinlyn, and wife, Suzanne, who lived in their car for a number of months before finding shelter in a motel.
  • Then there is Michelle Kennedy who lived in her car with her three children in Belfast, Maine; she parked someplace different each night so no one would notice them, and she instructed the children to tell anyone who asked that they were "staying with friends." She wrote a book entitled Without a Net - a "must-read" for people who want to understand what really is going on in the country.
  • Finally, there is William R. Alford who started keeping a car cover over the station wagon where he sleeps. "I originally just had drapes, but the condensation on the inside of the windows was a dead giveaway," said Mr. Alford, who has been homeless since May 2005.

And that's just four examples of the thousands and thousands and thousands of similar cases of people scattered across the country who have fallen on bad times and are living in their cars. And we are not exaggerating here. Even the Wall Street Journal - the rooting section for America's form of brutal capitalism - has taken note of what it calls the astounding number of middle-class Americans who are now living in their cars.

Urbina continues:

"As with all homeless people, finding food, warmth and a place to clean up is a constant struggle. But for those who live in their cars, remaining inconspicuous is its own challenge, and though living this way is illegal in most places, experts and advocates believe it is a growing trend. 'It's most often the working poor who find themselves in this situation, teetering on the border between the possessed and the dispossessed', said Kim Hopper, a researcher on homelessness for the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, which is based in New York.

Alford making up his bed in car.

Gary Barbee sleeps in the front seat of his unregistered, broken-down truck and carries everything he owns in the truck's bed, using his bicycle to move around Sacramento.

"Living inside their last major possession, the mobile homeless have often just fallen on hard times, advocates and social workers say, and since they tend (often erroneously) to view their situation as temporary, they are also more inclined to keep it secret. 'You spend a lot of effort just trying to pass', said one person living in her car in California. But residing - and hiding - in plain sight takes guile, and that starts with deciding where to park."

Trying to find clean toilet facilities is a big problem for families living in a car

"In cities, steep streets with no sidewalks, no overlooking windows and adjacent to woods are ideal because they have the least foot traffic and offer the easiest ability to enter and exit the car unnoticed, according to many who have been through the experience.

"The best location is one sparse enough to avoid nosy onlookers but populated enough that the car does not stand out, they say, near enough to walk to a restroom but far enough to avoid passers-by. Parking lots of big-box retailers are a popular choice. If free, hospital parking lots are also an option. Guards often take pity when told that you are waiting to visit a sick spouse, many say."

Urbina goes on:

"Finding a place to shower can take ingenuity. 'The key is to be smart about when you enter and leave the building', said Randy Brown, who for the last three months while living in his car has been sneaking onto a college campus near where he waits tables in Fredericksburg, Va., and using a shower that security guards do not realize is publicly accessible."

FINALLY, THERE ARE THE "TENT CITIES"

Finally, there are the tent cities - where families end up when they can no longer pay for a motel room and they don't have a car they can sleep in. This is the last stop on the road to foreclosure hell - unless one counts jail, which is rapidly becoming an option the authorities are pressing on the homeless (see below).

Trying to make a go of it in a tent; the phenomenon of women with children living in tent cities is a growing one - made all the worse as facilities for the homeless women with children are being swamped across the country.

Cory Doctorow of BBC News reports on this particular phenomenon as countless numbers of Americans become a victim to the economic meltdown.


TENT CITIES SPRING UP IN LA


Tent city in Reno, Nevada

Sylvia Flynn, 51, is one of those who has ended up in a tent city. She had moved to Reno, Nevada from northern California, but lost her job almost immediately after arriving - and then her apartment. Since the cheapest motels in Reno charge upward of $200 a week, Flynn ended up at the Reno women's shelter, which has only 20 beds and a two-week limit on stays. After she was evicted from there, she ended up in a tent city.

The Associated Press reports:

"From Seattle to Athens, Ga., homeless advocacy groups and city agencies are reporting the most visible rise in homeless encampments (i.e., tent cities) in a generation.

"Nearly 61 percent of local and state homeless coalitions say they've experienced a rise in homelessness since the foreclosure crisis began in 2007, according to a report by the National Coalition for the Homeless. The group says the problem has worsened since the report's release, with foreclosures mounting, gas and food prices rising and the job market tightening. 'It's clear that poverty and homelessness have increased', said Michael Stoops, acting executive director of the coalition. 'The economy is in chaos, we're in an unofficial depression and Americans are worried, from the homeless to the middle class, about their future'."

An "illegal" tent city in a mall parking lot in downtown LA

The report from the Associated Press continues:

"The phenomenon of encampments has caught advocacy groups somewhat by surprise, largely because of how quickly they have sprung up. 'What you're seeing is encampments that I haven't seen since the 80s', said Paul Boden, executive director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, an umbrella group for homeless advocacy organizations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Calif., Portland, Ore. and Seattle."

At first, these new "tent cities" were called "Bush Towns;" but growing numbers of the homeless are beginning to name their encampments after Obama.

The "Hoovervilles" of the Great Depression; the "Obamavilles" of today; increasingly, Obama is getting the blame - which, of course, is ridiculous.

Then there is Seattle. CNN reports that the tents the homeless are living in around Seattle are covered by tarps and plastic sheeting to keep water out. Several tents are collapsed under the weight of a recent snowfall. For Bruce Beavers, however, this camp is just about the best place in the world he could be living right now. "This is a place for people who lose their jobs, lose their houses, to have some kind of structure and for them to get back out in the world," he says. Set up in the parking lot of a church near Seattle, Washington, the camp houses anywhere from 50 to 100 homeless people each day. Bruce and others at the encampment formed around-the-clock security to keep people from having their things stolen; alcohol and drugs are not permitted.

Like many of the others, Bruce Beavers never expected to be homeless. He managed warehouses and hardware stores, had a 401(k) plan and owned his home.

Children were reported living in this encampment.

The dubious legality of the camp has caused problems with local authorities. Johnny Turner, another homeless man who recently lost his job - and who helped found the camp - says he would like to see the encampment grow into a permanent shelter that could accept more people needing a place to go.

Of course, not all "tent cities" are as organized as the one in Seattle. Many are "wrecks" just like the "human wrecks" that inhabit them. On the record, social workers deny that women with children are living in these "tent cities;" off the record, many admit that children are living there. One social worker exclaimed, "We're just overwhelmed. There is not enough money to go around."

Alisa Ulferts reports on a tent city in St. Petersburg, Florida; she writes:

"They came from different backgrounds, different generations and with different problems. But for two weeks, the men and women in the tent city on St. Petersburg's Fourth Avenue N have been a community, warts and all."

Casey Schnabel and Bryan Pennington (L) kiss and make up after an argument. They came to Florida from Ohio. The plan was to leave the cold of Ohio, join his dad in Ocala and find work. Pennington, 28, says he has an associate's degree, and Schnabel, also 28, says she's certified in surgical instrument sterilization. But things haven't worked out for them in Florida. Pennington's dad has a new family now, and he and Schnabel felt they were in the way. Jessica Tennyson (R) was on Social Security disability, but the checks stopped coming two months ago and officials have frozen her account to investigate. With no money, she was forced into the encampment on Fourth Ave. N.

Tina May, 32, holds a flashlight up to a piece of pizza held by Nygee Shabazz on Wednesday night after several boxes of pizza were left by an anonymous donor. Ann Rozelle checks out a stack of donated clothing at the tent city. Rozelle moved to Florida from Muncie, Ind. in 1987.

THERE IS LITTLE SYMPATHY FROM MIDDLE-CLASS
AMERICANS FOR THE CRIME OF "INVOLUNTARY POVERTY"

Picture of Philadelphia's old debtor prison

For the most part, middle-class Americans who have not as yet lost their jobs - and this includes overwhelming numbers in the Christian evangelical community - have shown very little sympathy for those who have been forced out into the streets.

Eric Ruder explains how the homeless get caught in a Catch-22 that can land them behind bars almost indefinitely:

"The jailers of the 19th century--even in the pre-Civil War South--largely abandoned the practice of imprisoning people for falling into debt as counterproductive and ultimately barbaric. In the 1970s and '80s, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that incarcerating people who are so poor they can't pay court costs that have been levied against them is unconstitutional].

But middle-class Americans who find the presence of the homeless in their neighborhoods distasteful are finding ways around the Court's prohibition, and are jailing them when everything else fails. Ruder continues:

Nowlin was held in a jail very much like this one in Cook county.

"Edwina Nowlin, a poor Michigan resident, was ordered to reimburse a juvenile detention center $104 a month for holding her 16-year-old son, the New York Times wrote in an editorial. When she explained to the court that she could not afford to pay, Ms. Nowlin was sent to prison. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which helped get her out last week after she spent 28 days behind bars, says it is seeing more people being sent to jail because they cannot make various court-ordered payments. That is both barbaric and unconstitutional.

"The details of Nowlin's case are even more alarming than the Times editorial suggests. Not only was Nowlin under orders to pay a fine stemming from someone else's actions, but she had been laid off from work and lost her home at the time she was ordered to 'reimburse' the county for her son's detention. Despite her inability to pay, she was held in contempt of court and ordered to serve a 30-day sentence.

"On March 6, three days after she was incarcerated, she was released for one day to work. She also picked up her paycheck, in the amount of $178.53. This, she thought, could be used to pay the $104, and she would be released from jail.

Woman prisoners in a jail similar to the one Nowlin "served time in."

"But when she got back to the jail, the sheriff told her to sign her check over to the county--to pay $120 for her own room and board, and $22 for a drug test and booking fee; that left nothing with which to pay the original fine. Even more absurd, Nowlin requested but was denied a court-appointed lawyer. So because she was too poor to afford a lawyer and denied her constitutional right to have the court provide one for her, she couldn't fight the contempt charge that stemmed from her poverty. And her contempt conviction only added to her poverty, as the fines and fees she was obligated to pay now multiplied.

"'Like many people in these desperate economic times, Ms. Nowlin was laid off from work, lost her home and is destitute', said Michael Steinberg, legal director of the Michigan ACLU. 'Jailing her because of her poverty is not only unconstitutional, it's unconscionable and a shameful waste of resources. It is not a crime to be poor in this country, and the government must stop resurrecting debtor's prisons from the dustbin of history'."

Ruder continues:

"Michigan isn't the only place where you can be imprisoned for the crime of involuntary poverty. The same Catch-22 ensnares poor defendants and the homeless daily in courtrooms across the country. In 2006, the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) filed a suit on behalf of Ora Lee Hurley, who couldn't get out of prison until she had enough money to pay a $705 fine. But she couldn't pay the fine because she had to pay the Georgia Department of Corrections $600 a month for room and board, and spend $76 a month on public transportation, laundry and food.

"She was released five days a week to work at the K&K Soul Food restaurant, where she earned $6.50 an hour, which netted her about $700 a month after taxes. Hurley was trapped in prison for eight months beyond her initial 120-day sentence until the Southern Center intervened. Over the course of her incarceration, she earned about $7,000, but she never had enough at one time to pay off her $705 fine.

"'This is a situation where if this woman was able to write a check for the amount of the fine, she would be out of there', Sarah Geraghty, a SCHR lawyer, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution while Hurley was still imprisoned. 'And because she can't, she's still in custody. It's as simple as that'."

Jailed for a misdemeanor, and never able to get out - this is kind of injustice that the movie "Cool Hand Luke" with Paul Newman was all about.


FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE

[The rich vs. the poor; middle-class American
Christians vs. the poor of this country;
no mercy, no compassion!]


A VERY OMINOUS TURN OF EVENTS

Police raid on a tent city in Seattle.

The growing predilection of the rich and their lackey police forces to lock up the poor using the legal devices described above - and then keep them there by charging them rent for jail space and for food the jail has "provided" (really, "slop") - has very serious consequences, especially for those who have been "forced out into the streets." And the reason for this is that the police are increasingly charging people who attempt to form encampments (or "tent cities") with a misdemeanor (usually a series of misdemeanors) which most of those living in the encampment are unable to pay.

This means, off to jail they go, WHICH IS A GOOD THING FOR THE JAILS IN WHICH THEY ARE INCARCERATED BECAUE THAT MEANS FUNDS FLOWING INTO THEIR POCKETS, REGARDLESS OF WHERE THESE PRISONERS ARE "HOUSED" - IN PUBLIC JAILS OF "FOR PROFIT" JAILS (see examples cited above). And make no mistake about it, police raids on homeless encampments are growing along with the tendency to incarcerate the "offenders;" indeed, the "tent city" in Seattle where Bruce Beavers lived (described above) was recently raided and destroyed. Some 22 occupants and organizers of the encampment were arrested as officers methodically moved from tent to tent through the camp.

Their arrests made them susceptible to the same kind of "treatment" that Nowlin and Hurley received in Michigan and Georgia respectively, although in this case the defendants were released.


SAINT PETERSBURG POLICE RAID TENT CITY.


THE BRUTALITY OF THE POLICE TOWARD THE POOR

And make no mistake about it, the brutality of today's police forces in America can be felt anywhere - anywhere, that is, outside the precincts where America's white middle-class (and most of America's evangelicals) live.

The only way to police the ... [poor]
is to be oppressive ... They
represent the force of the white
world, and that world's criminal
profit and ease ...
The badge, the gun in the holster,
and the swinging club make vivid
what will happen should ... [the poor
man's] rebellion become overt. ...
He moves through ... [the poor man's
world], therefore, like an occupying
soldier in a bitterly hostile country, which
is precisely what, and where he is, and is the
reason he walks in twos and threes.

- James Baldwin,
"Nobody Knows My Name"

VIDEOS OF POLICE BUTALITY

[This is a graphic series of video clips strung together from many different sources that make plain the brutality of today's police forces. (Audio was disabled by Youtube because they said it was too offensive.)]



VIDEOS OF BUTALITY IN
AMERICA'S PRISON

[This is a graphic report from BBC.]


Marx

Now, be assured, the violence portrayed in these videos is not "happen-chance" or an anomaly. They have become the "norm" throughout the length and breath of America's system of prison gulags - and just because middle-class Americans do not see what is happening, doesn't mean this brutality doesn't exist - AND YOU NEED TO BE CONCERNED IF YOU WANT TO HELP THE POOR IN OUR MIDST BECAUSE THE POLICE WILL ACCUSE YOU OF HARRASSING THEM as they did with Jeff Pataky (see below). [Please see our article, "The Utility Of Police Brutality In The Elite's War Against The Poor."]

On the other hand, How dare you call yourself a Christian if you refuse to help the poor in their righteous struggle against police brutality. Jesus said:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised ..." (Luke 4:18)

And again, Jesus said,

"BLESSED BE YE POOR: for yours is the kingdom of God." (Luke 6:20)

And the Apostle James said,

"If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

 "And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?" (James 2:15-16)

It's the poor for whom Jesus is preparing the coming Kingdom; it's the poor (not the rich) to whom Jesus came to preach the Gospel! If you refuse to take a stand with the poor and the homeless of this world, if you refuse to help them, then you have NO right to call yourself a Christian! Karl Marx once told a so-called Christian:

"I love and admire your Christ, but I despise you Christians because you are nothing like Him."

Ghandi said pretty much the same thing.


JESUS CHRIST: FRIEND OF THE POOR
by WOODY GUTHRIE -


Jesus on a collision course with the police

COMING DOWN HARD ON THOSE WHO REPORT
ON THE MISBEHAVIOR OF THE POLICE

Obviously, then, there is a price to be paid by those who call themselves Christian - and that is, it will eventually bring you into a collision with the state just as it did Jesus.

THE POLICE WILL NOT BROOK ANY INTERFERENCE WITH THEIR PRIMARY JOB OF ENFORCING THE PRIVILEGES OF THE RICH OVER THE POOR. Ed Brayton reports on what happened to one blogger in Phoenix who tried to check the increasing misbehavior and brutality of the Phoenix police. Brayton writes:

"This is becoming an old story. Blogger gets fed up with an out-of-control police department and starts exposing their actions to the public, police department proves the blogger right by trying to prosecute the blogger for vague crimes that really amount to 'saying bad things about powerful people'. But in this case, the police actually raided the blogger's home and seized virtually everything.

"In what should send a frightening chill down the spine of every blogger, writer, journalist and First Amendment advocate in the United States, Phoenix police raided the home of a blogger who has been highly critical of the department.

Pataky

"Jeff Pataky [the blogger in question], who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, said the officers confiscated three computers, routers, modems, hard drives, memory cards and everything necessary to continue blogging. The 41-year-old software engineer said they also confiscated numerous personal files and documents relating to a pending lawsuit he has against the department alleging harassment - which he says makes it obvious the raid was an act of retaliation.

"Maricopa County Judge Gary Donahoe signed the search warrant that allowed at least ten cops to raid his home in North Phoenix on March 12 while handcuffing his female roommate for three hours as they tore the place apart. Pataky, who was out of town on a business trip during the raid, also believes police were retaliating against him for the content of his blog, much of it which comes from inside sources within the department. 'They broke into my safe and took the backups of my backups', he said in a phone interview with Photography is Not a Crime on Wednesday. 'I can't even file my taxes because all my business plans are gone. They took everything'.

"The warrant apparently listed "petty theft" and "computer tampering with the intent to harass" as the probable cause for the warrant, neither of which would justify seizing so much material. And the petty theft charge is truly absurd: The allegation of "petty theft" against Pataky stem from photos he posted on his blog of police name plates that appear to have been taken from within the department. He said he actually made the plates himself. Interestingly, almost everything he gets on the department comes from good cops within the department blowing the whistle:

"We were going to shut down the website after that but then all of a sudden all these good cops started hitting the site and sending us tips," he said. He said they would also deliver all kinds of internal documents from within the department exposing everything from a cop with multiple DUIs to another cop whose son was a child molester and was trying to get on the force (and was eventually arrested). "We have about 50 to 100 retired and active cops who provide us information," he said.

"Police apparently believe one of the tipsters is an officer named David Barnes, who fell out of favor with the department in 2007 when he was a detective and went public with claims of mismanaged evidence at the city crime lab. Police also raided Barnes' home and according to Pataky's inside sources, plan to raid the homes of more cops."


PHOENIX POLICE RAID HOME
OF BLOGGER CRITICAL OF THEM


THE BIRTH OF A CHRISTIAN POLICE STATE

Brothers and sisters, listen to me here: despite the coming of the Obama Administration, the slide of the United States toward the establishment of a Christian Police State continues; yes, it has gone underground for now, but movement in this direction persists. Nothing seems able to stop it. [Please see our article, "The Evil in Our Midst."]

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Moreover, the intensifying clash between the Right and the Left in the country cannot help but accelerate the radicalization of America's Christian community. [Please see our articles, "The Christian Right: Creating a New and Ominous Strategy against the Left" and "It's Human to Believe that Everything Will Turn out Alright Rather than to Admit Things Might Not Work Out."]

The very real fact of the matter is, the Right is organizing the greatest attack on civil liberties this country has ever seen - and using as an excuse trumped up charges that the Left is doing the same.

Moreover, the Obama Administration is setting itself up for a foreign policy debacle - most likely one that the Right is already planning to orchestrate, ala 9-11 which could lead to a Right-Wing coup. [Please see our articles, "A Disaster Is Stalking Obama in the Middle East" and "Whether Obama Will Live or Die May Be Determined by What He Does in the Middle East." We also URGE you to see our article, "A Revolt against Elite Power Is in the Air."]

Listen to me here: We are at the "end of days" - the "doorway into eternity" - and the groundwork necessary for the appearance of the "Man of Sin" is now being laid. As Christians, we have a choice: Will we - by allowing ourselves to be subsumed by the machinations of the Right - which is exactly what's happening to most Christians in America today - be found on the side of the anti-Christ system that is now developing in our country, or will we speak out against it, and most particularly the effort to label all this "Christian." I hope and pray that you will choose to speak out against what's happening, especially in your churches and insofar as your fellow-believers are concerned.

Being ostracized.

But you need to know that by choosing to speak out against what's happening today, you will be OSTRACIZED from the church (so-called), and so much so that in you will be fulfilled Christ's warning to His disciples:

"They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." (John 16:2)

As a result, those who choose to "stand against it all" [as Antipas did so many thousands of years ago in Pergamos (Rev. 2:13)], will be forced to go "outside the camp" to be with Christ, as the Scriptures say:

"For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.

"Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

"LET US GO FORTH THEREFORE UNTO HIM OUTSIDE THE CAMP (i.e., outside of "religion," so-called), BEARING HIS REPROACH.

"FOR HERE WE HAVE NO CONTINUING CITY, BUT WE SEEK ONE TO COME." (Heb. 13:11-13)

God bless you!

S.R. Shearer
Antipas Ministries

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