Last week, I chased down 2nd District Supervisor, Estelle Fennell to find out why she removed Chris Weston from the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission. Having been to a few HRC meetings, it was clear to me that Chris Weston actually cares about human rights. Most of the HRC commissioners seemed surprisingly indifferent to me. I mean, we have lots of “rights” fanatics around here, at least when it comes to property rights, the 2nd Amendment, and privacy protection, but the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission has got to be the most tepid organization designed for the purpose of promoting human rights, ever, in the whole history of the civil rights movement. I doubt that butter would melt in half of the commissioners mouths.
Estelle told me, emphatically, that HRC Commissioners serve at the pleasure of the Board of Supervisors, so you can bet that we have a weak Human Rights Commission, because that’s what the Board of Supervisors wants. Chris Weston came to the special meeting of the HRC in Garberville, to hear about human rights abuses in Southern Humboldt, from the people who suffer them. Estelle Fennell couldn’t be bothered. Chris Weston wanted human rights issues agendized and acted upon by the HRC. Estelle, apparently, didn’t. Therefore, Chris Weston had to be removed.
Just look at Estelle Fennell’s atrocious record on human rights: She worked to pass two new laws to criminalize poverty, one prohibiting people from asking for help, and the other prohibiting sleep, laws which fly in the face of the most basic of human rights. She supported Measure Z, which shifts the burden of taxation away from land-owners, who reap most of the benefits of county government, and onto the working poor and homeless, who can afford it the least, and to whom the county offers little more than evictions and jail time. Most recently, her decision to hire a poorly qualified new Public Defender with a weak record, a decision which demoralized the County’s well-respected Public Defender’s office, will only make it less likely that the County will respect the rights of indigent defendants. Considering her record, putting a commissioner on the HRC who actually cares about human rights would be out of character, so we shouldn’t be surprised that Estelle Fennell rescinded Chris Weston’s appointment.
I asked Estelle Fennell, directly, why she removed Chris Weston from the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission. She didn’t want to tell me. She told me that Chris knew why she removed him, and that I should ask him, so I did. I invited Chris Weston to appear as a guest on my radio show, the Memorial Day (May 29) edition of KMUD’s Monday Morning Magazine. On my show, Chris told us that the reason Estelle gave Chris for why she removed him, was that he created “friction” within the HRC.
“Friction!” We’ve got teenage kids beating homeless old men with baseball bats in Southern Humboldt, and she’s worried about “friction” within the HRC. A man was set on fire in Garberville, but she’s worried about “friction” on the HRC. As Chris Weston said on the air, “Human rights don’t get defended without some friction.” and “if it weren’t for ‘some friction’ blacks would still be slaves, and women would still be the property of men.”
I think it will take “some friction” to address our continuing problem with violence against the poor and homeless in Southern Humboldt. We have a serious human rights problem in Southern Humboldt, and ignoring it won’t make it go away. If Ron Machado were gay, the incident where he was set on fire would be national news, and the perpetrators would face federal Hate Crime charges, but because he was poor, white and heterosexual, in Humboldt County, he’s just good kindling. That’s a cultural problem and it’s a cultural problem caused, not by poor and homeless people, but by the people with six-figure incomes around here, like Estelle Fennell.
We call it a “community” here in Southern Humboldt, but what goes on here is more like a casino. As long as you have money, we don’t care who you are, or where you got it; you’re welcome to stay and play. If you don’t have money, on the other hand, you’d better scram, even if you were born and raised here, even if you have a job and work here, even if you think you are part of the community here. To the rich people around here, like Estelle Fennell, you’re not a contributing member of the community, you’re just a loser, and you are taking up valuable real-estate, so move on. That’s how a casino operates, but you can’t build a community that way.
We don’t make “community” a priority, here in Humboldt County, we make money our sole priority, and ignore the social, cultural and human consequences of that decision. Our current Board of Supervisors has created an atmosphere conducive to gamblers, that lures shady business-people, and outright criminals into our community to loot us of our quality of life, ruin the environment, and exploit us economically, while it sweeps the social problems their policies create for our community, under the rug, or out the door.
They ignore the housing crisis. They ignore the addiction problem. They ignore the dead bodies. They ignore the violence against the poor and homeless. They ignore the sex trafficking, and they ignore the people in our community who are suffering. All they see is money. Everything else, they just brush off, throw away, or pretend it doesn’t exist. Of course, they can get away with that now, because there’s so much money around, but when this casino stops paying, the high- rollers will be gone, along with the money. All that will be left is the wreckage, and the losers. That is, the environment and the community.
It’s happening already. The smart money is getting out while the getting is good, leaving the suckers to lose their shirts on the downhill slide. Meanwhile, large scale organized crime has become entrenched in the area, institutionalizing hard drugs, sex trafficking and other crimes in Humboldt County while honest working people live in their cars or sleep under bridges because drug dealers have taken over most of the available space. That’s what’s happening to our community, and to our home, here in Humboldt County, thanks to our current Board of Supervisors.
The housing crisis here is literally killing people in Humboldt County, and Housing First won’t begin to address it. Our whole economy is based on dealing drugs, but we have almost no treatment for addiction, and we die from drug use at ten times the state average here in Humboldt County. The housing crisis forces people into the drug economy, and the drug economy drives addiction. Addiction leads to poverty, crime, hopelessness, and death. This is no accident. This is being done to us intentionally. This is how greedy parasites suck the life out of a community, and our current Board of Supervisors invited them here to do it. Now that Estelle Fennell has eliminated the “friction” at the HRC, I guess it will just be smooth sailin’ from here.
A couple of years ago the voters of Humboldt County approved Measure Z, a new, regressive sales tax that disproportionately burdens the poor and homeless. When the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors sold us this ripoff, they promised us that the money would be used for “public safety.” Since then, we’ve had a wave of vicious violent assaults, mostly against the poor and homeless, and more murders than ever before.
Down here in SoHum, post Measure Z, the downtown Garberville shopping district is crawling with cops, who do little but harass street people all day. Then, late at night, after the stores have closed and the cops have gone away, local teenagers go out and beat homeless people with baseball bats while they try to sleep. Measure Z brought more cops to Southern Humboldt, but it also brought more violence to our community as well, and that was by design.
If you believed, for one instant, that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors wrote Measure Z to make Humboldt County safer for the public you are a special kind of stupid. Unfortunately, the only thing we have more of in this county than greed and marijuana, is stupidity, and we can thank gullible NoHum liberals who voted for Measure Z for unleashing this latest wave of violence and bloodshed in Humboldt County.
What really happened was, the greedy landowners, real-estate bloodsuckers and the merchants down here in SoHum, convinced the tax-friendly liberals up North, to vote for a new tax that hits up the working poor, single mothers, and homeless people of Humboldt County, to pay for a police force for the unincorporated town of Garberville, which is swimming in drug money, but has no tax base. They called it Measure Z, and they said it was for “public safety,” because if they told you that it was a new, countywide, tax to pay for cops to insulate Garberville’s rich dope yuppies from their own customers and employees, you never would have voted for it.
The greedy, hoping to boost property values, and the mean-spirited, eager for blood, tricked naive liberals, who always fall for that “public safety” bullshit, into voting for a war against the poor. Measure Z was the first of a wave of “Fuck Poor People” laws in Humboldt County. The Board of Supes designed Measure Z to hurt poor people, both by taxing them unfairly, and then by punishing them for their poverty, with the cops they pay for. “No Camping” and “No Panhandling” laws soon followed, along with beefed-up enforcement of selective laws that impact the poor. Measure Z came first, however, and because Measure Z was so stacked against the poor, and encountered so little resistance, many people took it as a signal that it was open season on the poor and homeless.
What has it gotten us? Measure Z has given us a record-breaking year for murder, and Measure Z gave us more violence on our streets. Congratulations! And it only cost us, what, 20 million dollars so far? This is exactly what proponents of Measure Z wanted. They wanted more violence. They wanted more violence directed against the poor. They wanted cops to do more of it, but they wanted it done nonetheless.
Another body turned up at a homeless camp North of Redway on Halloween. The Sheriff claims that it is not immediately clear whether the man fell, or was thrown over the cliff, but however you look at it, he was certainly pushed. Local vigilantes known as “Locals on Patrol” have been going into homeless camps during the day to hand-out notices bearing the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Dept. logo and Sheriff Mike Downey’s name. The notices say: “You are on land owned by the State of California, the County of Humboldt or a private landowner in violation of penal code 602 (trespassing). If you are located on this property by any law enforcement officer you are subject to arrest per that section.”
Did the notice from the Sheriff’s office, and the nice people with tazers and pepper spray, who visited their camps to deliver it, scare people into moving their camp to a more precarious position, from which they fell, or did someone go back to the camp later that night to do the dirty work? Will we ever know? Will the Sheriff even conduct an investigation? Oh, and while you’re pondering rhetorical questions, ask yourself, “How does this improve “public safety?”
For politicians, Measure Z is a goldmine. For the poor people of Humboldt County, Measure Z has been a siege, and for the greedy, drug dealers who control most of the Southern Humboldt economy, Measure Z is about political power and selective enforcement. It’s about having cops to bust petty criminals, and harass homeless people around town while allowing major drug kingpins to operate with impunity in the hills, and not having to pay for it. All in all, Measure Z has been a shameful exercise in corruption, coercion, and violence against Humboldt County’s most vulnerable.
Measure Z has not made our streets safer, it has only made them meaner, more dangerous and more expensive, and the problems it was supposed to solve have only gotten worse. Remember that, the next time a politician tries to sell you something else for “public safety.”
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors just passed a new, unnecessary, unconstitutional and unkind ordinance to limit free speech and criminalize poverty called the “aggressive solicitation ordinance.” They might as well have passed a dress code too, for all the good it will do. This is just the latest attempt to sweep Humboldt’s poor and homeless under the rug, but the poor and homeless will not go away because poverty is systemic in our local economy.
Because of prohibition, the marijuana industry breeds poverty, and the real-estate driven economy breeds homelessness. The people who complain the most about the poor and the homeless are the people doing the most to create the poverty and homelessness in our community. Rather than address our housing crisis, low wages, or the out-of-control organized crime problem, the Board of Supervisors decided to punish the victims, the honest, hard-working, low-wage workers who actually generate most of the wealth in Humboldt County.
This ordinance has nothing whatsoever to do with “public safety” and everything to do with greedy real-estate bloodsuckers, dope yuppies, business owners and mobsters who are making a killing right now off of the “green-rush.” The same people who sell out our forests and rivers to the highest bidders, create poverty and homelessness in our human communities too, but they hate to see it in public, so they send cops to harass the poor and create new laws that criminalize poverty, like this new ordinance.
Greed is even uglier than poverty. Greed poisons the soul and turns decent people into degenerate monsters of consumption. I don’t know if greed makes people stupid or if stupidity makes people greedy, but stupidity and greed always go together, and together, they make ugly. That ugliness is palpable in SoHum.
Even a newcomer can feel it. I noticed it the first time I came to Garberville almost two decades ago and it has only gotten worse since. The whole town loudly exudes ugly, stupid, crass, greed. You can practically see it in people’s faces and you hear it almost every time they open their mouths. That’s the kind of ugliness that makes Southern Humboldt so repulsive to decent people who might consider moving here, and that’s the kind of ugliness that undermines the quality of life for the people who do live here.
Real-estate offices don’t attract tourists. Increasingly, real-estate offices provide no service at all to ordinary citizens, who were long ago priced out of the housing market. The greedy leeches lurking within those offices only value the natural beauty of this area and the uniqueness of this community to the degree to which they can turn it into money that they can stuff into their own pockets. They are the ones inviting every drug-dealing greed-bag in America to come to Humboldt County to destroy our forests and choke out the last wild salmon. They are the ones making Humboldt County unaffordable to anyone but drug-dealers and they are the ones making the people of Humboldt County poor and homeless while they make themselves filthy rich.
Who needs them? We should have learned our lesson after the mortgage fraud collapsed the housing market. They are still the same greedy, lying, cheating bastards that wrecked the economy and made everybody homeless to begin with. Haven’t we had enough of their shit?
Drug-dealers aren’t any better. If anything, drug-dealers are even greedier, dumber, and even more dishonest than real-estate leeches, and there’s a lot of crossover around here. Most of our real-estate leeches deal drugs too, and a lot of our drug dealers get into real-estate as a way to launder their drug money. Between the two of them, they’ve turned SoHum into a vortex for the greediest and the slimiest. They’ve created the perfect environment for hard-drug pushers, prostitution, human trafficking and child pornography among other things, which they welcome with open arms, so long as it has enough money.
From the depths of this pit of depravity, and fueled by the filthy black market cash that fills it, Estelle Fennell rises like Godzilla to crush the poor, honest, working citizens of Humboldt County and all who would oppose her.
Stomp, new subsidies for real-estate developers.
Stomp, new subsidies for property owners.
Stomp, those subsidies now get paid by Humboldt County’s poor and homeless.
Stomp, this new ordinance makes it illegal to ask a stranger for help and effectively blocks grassroots organizers from building a campaign against her.
Stomp! What’s next?
A very real monster is destroying our forests and our communities, and that monster passed this ordinance to cover it’s tracks, and dispose of the bodies of it’s victims. We have to stop it, before it’s too late!
Last year, Humboldt County instituted a a new regressive sales tax, Measure Z, that unduly burdens the poor in Humboldt County. This year, the county intends to pass a new ordinance that will infringe on our civil rights. Apparently it wasn’t enough to just send more cops out to harass the poor, which Measure Z funded, they now find it necessary to invent a new crime, for which the poor can be prosecuted. Still, no one wants to pay taxes, and no one wants to give up their rights, so how do our County Supervisors generate public support for these measures? That’s easy. They lie.
County Supervisors used the same lie for both Measure Z and this new proposed “aggressive solicitation ordinance.” That is the lie called “public safety.” Remember “public safety?” That was the lie the Federal Government used to justify marijuana prohibition too. “Public safety” is one of those big lies that fascists have used repeatedly throughout history to restrict civil rights, suppress dissent and control the public, and that’s exactly how the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors use it today. Don’t believe for one second that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors gives a rat’s ass about public safety. All you have to do is watch Estelle Fennell drive to know that public safety is the very last thing on her mind.
“Public safety” sounds like a good thing. Who doesn’t support public safety? We outlawed fireworks, so we wouldn’t have so many forest fires. We outlawed driving while intoxicated so we could cut down on the number of traffic fatalities and we mandate seat-belt use for the same reason. Those are some ways that legislators have addressed public safety concerns through legislation. We can argue whether or not these laws work, but “public safety” becomes a big lie when politicians use it, not to save lives, but to steal our money and take away our rights.
I readily admit that Humboldt County is a dangerous place to live. We face many threats to public safety here in Humboldt County, some natural, some man-made. We’re prone to earthquakes, fires, floods, tsunamis and mudslides, all of which have a long, devastating history in Humboldt County, and we can rest assured that overwhelming natural disasters will remain a predictable part of our future. We could probably save a lot of lives by spending some money now to prepare for the inevitable. In a real disaster, it would really help to have plenty of bed space in emergency shelters, and it would help even more to have people with experience running an emergency shelter, who know what to expect when disaster strikes.
Just think of the lives that could be saved in a natural disaster, if we had a full-time emergency shelter in Southern Humboldt. Think of how many people need help in times of personal emergency, and how much good it would do for the whole community to have an emergency shelter serving people in crisis as a way of preparing for the major natural disasters that will inevitably impact all of us in the future. That’s what a policy designed for “public safety” might look like. You won’t see much of that in Humboldt County.
Now ask yourself: When was the last time an “aggressive panhandler” killed anyone in Humboldt County, by panhandling too aggressively? I don’t think it has happened yet. I’m sure we would have heard about it on the news. Not one single death by “aggressive panhandling” in Humboldt County in as long as I can remember. I don’t ever recall hearing about a single injury, not even a bruise, caused by “aggressive panhandling” anywhere in Humboldt County, have you? The “public safety threat” posed by aggressive panhandling is entirely imaginary. We can only imagine how an aggressive panhandler might possibly threaten public safety, because we’ve never had a single aggressive panhandling related injury in Humboldt County in as long as anyone can remember.
On the other side of the coin, reckless drivers, like Estelle Fennell, kill and injure dozens of Humboldt County residents every year. Out-of -control drivers on the Briceland-Thorne Road constitute a serious threat to the public safety of the citizens of Southern Humboldt, but none of the money from Measure Z goes towards traffic enforcement West of Redway. Instead, the cops cruise around Redway and Garberville harassing poor people all day, poor people who do not own cars or drive cars, have not committed any crimes and do not pose any threat to public safety.
The cops themselves pose a serious threat to public safety. We have some of the most violent cops in the state. The Eureka Police Dept leads the state in police shootings, and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Dept is famous for torturing locked-down non-violent protesters by swabbing pepper-spray in their eyes. This we know for sure. Complaints and allegations of police abuse have only multiplied since then, and the EPD still refuses to turn over dash-cam video from an 2012 incident reported by Thadeus Greenson in the NCJ. Cops around here remain largely above the law which makes this threat to public safety even more insidious and dangerous.
But wait, there’s more.
Dead bodies turn-up every month or so around here, and most of these deaths appear to be connected to the black-market marijuana industry. Hash labs explode every week or so, maiming and killing residents and destroying homes all over Humboldt County, and at least a dozen people, probably more, mostly young people, die in black-market drug deals every year in Humboldt County. Hundreds more die violent premature deaths in the black-market marijuana industry across the country every year in the process of selling Humboldt County marijuana. Not only does Humboldt County’s black-market marijuana industry dramatically impact public safety here in Humboldt County, we have become a public safety menace to the rest of the country.
Speaking of black-market drug deals, we have some of the highest drug addiction and drug overdose rates in the state. We consume the equivalent of 14 Vicodin tablets every day, on average for every man, woman and child in Humboldt County, and that doesn’t include all of the heroin, meth and cocaine we consume. Drugs kill hundreds of people in Humboldt County every year. The deadly combination of an entrenched black-market coupled with our culture of addiction, poses, by far, our most serious threat to public safety here in Humboldt County, and the bright red cherry at the top of this public safety crises sundae is Hepatitis C.
Humboldt County has been recognized as the most prolific breeding-grounds for Hepatitis C in the entire USA. The Hep-C epidemic threatens to overwhelm our public health system even without a natural disaster. Despite new treatments, complications of Hepatitis C claim tens of thousands of lives across the country every year.
Welcome to the heart of the Hep-C generation, and you are welcome for that brief rundown of genuine public safety concerns that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors could be working on at this very moment, were they not so busy lying to you, stealing your money and shutting you up. So, the next time your County Supervisor or your local newspaper tries to convince you that we need this new, unconstitutional, free-speech stifling, fascist police-state style “aggressive solicitation ordinance” in Humboldt County for “public safety” you will know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lying to you.
It’s open season on the poor and homeless in Southern Humboldt. Vigilante gangs terrorize them on the streets. Cops abuse them and local merchants harass them for not looking prosperous enough to patronize their overpriced ripoff businesses. Now the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors intends to pass a new ordinance designed to punish this oppressed population still further, while it chokes out our civil rights and strangles the democratic process to boot. The so-called “aggressive panhandling” or “aggressive solicitation” ordinance will make it a crime to ask for help in Humboldt County.
Under this proposed ordinance, a person who had just been robbed, stabbed, beaten and left laying on the sidewalk screaming for help, could be cited for “aggressive solicitation.” This ordinance could stop Ray Oakes from asking the “Question of the Week” for the Humboldt Independent, and this ordinance could certainly be used to prevent effective grassroots organizing. Unions would have never gotten started without “aggressive solicitation.” It takes a whole lot of “aggressive solicitation” to get any grassroots political movement off the ground, and here in America we have whole religions dedicated to “aggressive solicitation.”
Here in the USA, we decided, almost 250 years ago, that we prefer “aggressive solicitation” to violence, deceit and treachery, which had long been the custom in Europe, and it was the proud American tradition of “aggressive solicitation” established by such patriots as Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry and Paul Revere that made this country a beacon for freedom and democracy. More than a civil right, the right to “aggressively solicit” is a human right, and a birthright. In fact, “aggressive solicitation” is the only thing we know how to do, instinctively, from birth.
Without “aggressive solicitation” we would not survive as a species, and “aggressive solicitation” has an important function within the community, as well as the family. It makes no more sense to prohibit “aggressive solicitation” within the community, than it does to punish a baby for crying in the house. If your baby won’t stop crying, you don’t punish the baby, you feed the baby. “Aggressive solicitation” is a signal, and we ignore it, or worse, prohibit it, at our own peril.
In another era, both past and perhaps future, with more enlightened judges, the Supreme Court would almost certainly shoot down any ordinance resembling the one the Supes currently consider, but thanks to the Scalia Court, the court that handed down “Citizens United” and declared that money is protected speech and corporations are citizens, they could probably get away with it. Who knows how constitutional this proposed ordinance, or the one Eureka and Fortuna passed, will look next year?
I did a lot of political work back in the ’90s, to legalize marijuana, and to close nuclear power plants. We would never have been able sustain those movements without a significant amount of “aggressive solicitation.” I know, because I did it. I could get a complete stranger to write me a check for $100 in two minutes.
I didn’t just approach pedestrians, or stand on street corners, malls, parks and other public spaces, although I did plenty of that too. I went even further. I raised a lot of money for a number of organizations by wandering through neighborhoods where I didn’t know anyone, onto private property, and knocking on complete strangers’ front doors. I knocked on about 50 doors every night. That’s “aggressive solicitation” no matter how you look at it. Lots of people called the cops on me.
At the time, what I did was considered constitutionally protected free speech. We had a legal department, and when we didn’t have a legal department, we had the ACLU. Occasionally, some little uptight burg would pass an ordinance like the one the Supes are now considering, and liberal New England lawyers would swarm them like hornets, and they’d never do it again. We won every time.
Around here, non-profit groups seem to rely more on alcohol sales and parties to fund their campaigns, than the kind of direct grassroots fund-raising that I did. I doubt any of them will recognize the threat this proposed ordinance poses, or stand up for their right to become politically relevant one day. The poor and homeless don’t have a legal team to defend their rights, and the general public has no idea what it takes to organize a grassroots movement, and I doubt many of them even care.. It seems most people in Humboldt County prefer violence, deceit and treachery to democracy anyways.
But here’s the kicker. I have, never once, been “aggressively solicited” by anyone in Humboldt County. I don’t spend a lot of time in Garberville, but I usually walk from the library at the North end of town, to the thrift stores on the South side of town, right through the Garberville shopping district,, at least once or twice a week. I’ve usually got a buck for anyone who asks, but hardly ever does anyone ask. When they do ask, people usually ask very timidly, and often I can barely hear them.
Even in Eureka and Arcata, I get “spanged” every once in a while. Usually by the fourth ask, I’m tapped out, but I can’t remember the last time four people asked me for spare change on the same day, anywhere in Humboldt County. Does that really constitute a problem? Once, years ago, I got hustled for $20, by the kid who used to own Nacho Mamma, when I saw him a few years later, in the parking lot of Eureka Natural Foods. Honestly, I was glad to see that at least someone around here had it together enough to concoct an effective rap, and I knew the guy. If he told me he needed $20, for anything, I’d have given it to him, once.
I don’t think we have a problem with “aggressive solicitation,” so much as we have a problem with “aggressive fascism.” We have a craven cadre of drug dealers, real-estate developers and merchants pulling the strings of our elected officials to invent new laws that criminalize poverty and stifle dissent. They all want to skim the economic cream from the injustice of the War on Drugs, while they criminalize the poverty the War on Drugs creates in this community. Does it get any uglier, greedier or more corrupt than that? No, I don’t think we have a problem with “aggressive solicitation” at all. We have a much bigger problem than that, and it’s going to take a lot of “aggressive solicitation” to solve it.
I read recently that HumCPR has agreed to purchase a number of shipping containers that they intend to convert into emergency temporary housing, and that a HumCPR member has agreed to host this emergency housing facility on his property in Eureka. It’s about time Humboldt County landowners stepped up to the plate on this issue, and even though this is a baby step, it seems like a baby step in the right direction, for a change.
Until now, I’ve seen landowners take a mostly punitive approach to poverty and homelessness. They’ve used their political power to pass a regressive sales tax (Measure Z) which unfairly burdens poor and working families, and then made sure that the county uses that Measure Z money to harass Humboldt County’s poorest citizens. Eureka’s new, grossly unconstitutional, panhandling ordinance is another example of local landowners pressuring county government to directly and intentionally violate the human rights of people who lack the resources to defend themselves within the system.
Landowners should remember that the right to free speech, which includes the right to ask for help, the right to assemble, the right to protest, and to seek redress for their grievances, are inalienable human rights. These rights, among others, are not bestowed by any government. Human rights precede the Constitution, and they supersede all government regulation. Every human being on Earth was born with these rights, and every human being has a right to fight for and to claim these rights using any means necessary.
Property rights, on the other hand, are a contrivance of government and have no meaning outside of it. Your right to own property only exists so long as the government which grants those contrivances enforces them. Government enforcement costs money, and it costs substantially more money when large portions of the population do not consent to be governed and actively resist government control.
It costs a lot of money to send a cop out into the street to harass poor people. It costs even more to arrest, book and charge someone for violating an unconstitutional city ordinance. On the other hand, any poor person can take revenge for these violations armed with nothing more than a rock, a pack of matches or even their own excrement, and are completely within their rights as a human being to do so.
As long as landowners use government to oppress the poor and deny them their basic human rights, landowners should expect the poor to make war against them. In fighting this guerrilla war against oppression, all private property becomes a fair target and violence is completely justified. As long as Humboldt County landowners pursue a punitive approach to poverty, this guerrilla war will continue to escalate. As the government sends more cops to violate people’s rights, more people withdraw their consent to be governed, and instead seek to undermine government control, destroy private property and claim their inalienable rights by any means necessary.
Landowners cannot win this war. That should be obvious, by now, to anyone with their eyes open, but the sooner they recognize this, the better. Landowners can only lose this war. Every time someone calls the cops on people for hanging-out, talking to their friends, sharing food, smoking, imbibing, asking for help, trying to sleep, or any other ordinary activity of normal life, for which poor people endure endless harassment, they create enemies. Every time they create an enemy, they escalate the war. Every time they escalate the war, it costs them more money to protect themselves and their precious private property.
As this war escalates, frustrations rise on both sides. The more landowners and merchants express this frustration, in conversation and in public forums, the more they lose the battle for the hearts and minds of the community. It’s nearly impossible to complain about poor people without sounding like a complete boor, and few people who attempt it, pull it off gracefully. Nobody with any class wants to hear you complain about poor people, any more than they want to hear you complain about (insert racial epithet here). This kind of talk does no good whatsoever, and it turns people off. On the other hand, it’s hard to criticize someone for helping the poor, even a little bit.
So, I won’t even try. Instead, I’ll take it as a rare sign of intelligence. Maybe local landowners have finally come to their senses, and realized that it makes more sense to solve the problem than it does to fight the war. Here’s hoping we see more steps in this direction in the future.