"The article and comments are only partly about the murder and are more generally about public policy advocacy and individual attitudes in response to the murder and to crime generally. James is introducing a realist and class-aware perspective to that conversation, perhaps in hope of weakening a self-perpetuating cycle of oppression and crime."
I have been reading Berkeleyside's articles for one year. Not all of them, only the ones concerning subject matters where "homeless" are concerned. But last month I read an article written by Berkeley city councilmen Jesse ArreguÃn concerning Measure S's spectacular failure and the "homeless" in general. I felt it his words were more of the same tired diatribe. Upon visiting Berkeley city hall for my first look at their process of governing I had the opportunity to watch and listen to councilman Arreguin speak about a local subject -- Well's Fargo. The way he handled the "news" media stooge was both typical and nauseating.
More of the same stuff that got us here in the first place. Rearranging of the deck chairs will not stop that ship from sinking. All the posturing and different-but-same phrasing is not going to get it done. I know this is going on because I see and hear it. And I'm not the only one complaining, either. I'm not some sole lunatic baying at the full moon, there are others, and I speak for a lot of them.
Politicians churn my stomach. The way they handle their constituents, the average person, is abhorrent. The way we're spoken to, as though we're their six-year-old brat getting a lesson about why we have to be patient and "don't understand the complexities of the job." Meanwhile, the wolves claw outside the corner of our back doors, only we don't have "back doors" because we have no place to "home," which is the problem needing addressing, by the way. Not to sound redundant, but not addressing that single point is why you have a "'homeless' problem."
But I digress.
After reading Arreguin's article I posted my take in the "comment" portion of the same site. My first shot wasn't all that great, so I sort of deserved ridicule for that one. However, once I straightened out that ship and began shooting with expert-marksmanship-style accuracy, the automatons stayed true to their namesake and kept up their stonewalling nonsense. No content or anything to combat what I conveyed, mind you... just quick quips of nothing. Reading their responses seemed like wanting a sizzling t-bone steak and receiving cold cat food on hundred-year-old china. Then I began seeing through the obvious faÃ§ade. Berkeleyside's construct seems right-wing, allegedly. And those right-wingers gang up on you quickly, too .
My guess is they are city government, judging by their inane and fact-less responses to my stuff; stonewalling. Then I get some support from someone who had been following my struggle with those are reality-challenged. He then "friended" me on Facebook (Or 'Fedbook' or 'FaÃ§adebook,'?) and hooked me up with an article from a year ago. This article discussed of the Berkeley High School students holding a rally in support and honor of Treyvon Martin. The Berkeleyside contributor pointed me to the comment section of that article, and, it was all right there, for everyone to read: the (flawed) philosophy.
It was the same ignorance from the same brute source. More arrogance and stonewalling stupidity of the highest order. Over-reactionary nonsense. The same sort of inane insanity that causes all these messes and then asks how the mess got there. The same philosophy who blames victims of society's worst for their own situation in life, applying some false notion of "community," when they practice it not. Bourgeois arrogance that only comes from places outside this one: Berkeley, California, U.S.A., Planet Earth. These are not Berkeley Folk running this game on everyone. These are something else. These people fan the flames of fear. They call for "citizen patrols!" like the one that was birthed in Florida and lead to a young man's untimely death.
Wanting to start up some committee over the first murder of the year in any town is absurd, even if it is backed up with "burglaries" and a "mace incident at the B.A.R.T. station." And to arm average citizens with such powers, without training (and this is key), is absurd and dangerous. Even with training they can still screw up. See: George Zimmerman. There is a slippery slope that leads to unnecessary violence against innocent citizens.
Hell, I even argued that George Zimmerman, the man who killed Treyvon Martin, was also a "victim" of sorts; a victim of a system that perpetrates fear of your brother and sister based upon dress or age or class or geographical location and their proximity therein, giving that walking philosophy a loaded weapon and "Stand Your Ground" to wield it? And that very same system put George Zimmerman right there on that poorly-lit street with Treyvon Martin. And that situation was brought to you by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and right-wing Senators and Governors of Florida who support that organization, such as Jeb Bush, brother and son of Satan and Satan's Spawn themselves.
That was meant to hurt.
Funny. The very same system that arrests, charges, and convicts (and gets 'life in prison') someone not wealthy, for a crime of setting up something that ends in the death of an average citizen or an undercover police officer is the same system that says there is no crime for allowing what happened to Treyvon Martin to occur, occur? How is that even possible? Why is there not one standard for all here? How is it these public officials get away with setting up such an irresponsible and deadly scenario? And when that deadly scenario plays out, and the result is a teenage boy murdered, and it wouldn't have occurred otherwise, those who enabled (or set it up) get off the hook for it? And then you have to hear them moralize about you and me and a dead teenage victim of their own choosing? Smearing a dead victim because he smoked Cannabis, something George W. Bush did? Like it's justification for and thereby his own fault?!
Hey, what do Texans always like to say?
"Get a rope"?
I posted the above link to show you all the comments and who made them. Most of the unenlightened on that site are faceless constructs. They hide under assumed identities, using that anonymity to shoot sideways from the bushes, pushing a certain-type political-stance and fear-based tactics over real answers and solutions, stoking the flames of ignorance and fear to achieve a desired result. There is one character in particular named "The Sharkey," and he (or she) and his (or her) buddies like taking turns tag teaming anyone with a different angle on things. He (or She) is your Antagonist, or "bad guy (or lady)" in this sordid drama. The Protagonist, or "good guy" is a man named "John Holland." Notice he doesn't use a fake name, presumably. And, he uses a picture of himself, again, presumably. I guess he could be a fraud, but judging by his words and how he uses them, he does not seem the type.
These other Cowards hide under pseudonyms.
All you have to do is read, you will quickly see what I (and others) deal with. Mr. Holland expends very little effort swatting this twit's logic all over the place, using The Sharkey's (and others') own words against them. He shows how they try spinning stuff to make their arguments stronger, when it's nothing but hot air. This type mentality also shows everyone why nothing ever gets fixed and why things remain screwed up. And when pressed about the assumed names, I was told, "Some of us have jobs in the community of a 'certain standing' in the community and can't talk as freely as some in here." I paraphrased those words, of course, but you get the point. I do remember the words "of a 'certain standing' in the community" being the reason for their hiding, though, and those were the most important words used. I commented that maybe they shouldn't speak about such heated subjects if they weren't going to put their asses on the line with their words, like Mr. Holland and I.
This person sounds like a politician. And if that is the case, a Coward, too. Unless you can say something and stand behind it, you should shut up about it. I'm tired of Cowards hiding behind buildings, bushes, grassy knolls, gutters, behind fences, et cetera. If you are going to talk about subjects this controversial you need to put your name to your words. Otherwise you are nobody. You're nothing. You're perpetrating the problem, not helping. In fact, you're hurting the efforts by obstruction or inaction or both.
And those people I speak about are the minority. It's a handful of people with agendas for more power and money. Most Berkeleyans are good people who help their fellow sisters and brothers. Unless they're being told their feelings are correct about something, even though that statement of support is then backed up with the downplaying of such a thought?
"'Everyone I know feels less safe than five years ago,' noted one woman. 'Is it getting worse?'
"Frankel acknowledged that 'your perception is your reality' but reassured her that numbers are flat or down in Berkeley for most serious crimes."
(source: Berkeleyside.com's article, 'West Berkeley neighbors ask for answers after homicide')
All you have to do is walk the neighborhoods, like I do. Not drive past them, either, but walk. I walk all over this town, and what I see is a "community" coming together to help others. Down Channing Street, just west of Roosevelt Avenue, in West Berkeley, sits the "Wishing Well," where people of the neighborhood leave clothing they don't need any longer. Adult clothing as well as children's clothing. I have looked in the box and took inventory. It's a wonderful thing. And down most these streets you will find items people were going to toss away to the landfill, but instead left them on the corner or curb in front of their houses. I have kept a few items: David Cronenberg's 1983 classic, "Videodrome," starring Deborah Harry and James Woods, on VHS; a colander; a knitted winter hat with another winter knitted hat, full face cover minus eye and mouth hole(s), among other stuff that is reusable.
Yeah, I realize the area I walk and the one in the article are different neighborhoods. I walk in that one, too. I know people all over this town. She's a beautiful city, too. Even the "bad neighborhoods." Hey, hang out on a ramp in Akron, Ohio sometime, listening to gun play just around the corner and tell me West Berkeley is a "problem." It's all relative, people. And some people are playing with that relativity and are pushing the wrong message here. Hey, stay "vigilant," that isn't what I am preaching against. Hell, I am vigilant! Obviously! I am warning to not turn this into a lynch mob mentality where we begin seeing Bogey Men behind every tall bush or dark corner. It's happened before. We have precedence of ignorant behavior being played out by politicians with agendas which ended with death, scapegoating, and lack of responsibility. And that was the State perpetrating all that.
But yeah, I'm crazy.
Addendum: Now I am hearing from a friend of mine that the national "news" media is pushing this fear angle as well? Almost as if they are pushing for "civil war" and how Republicans want to arm third graders. Hey, I don't watch television, so I will have to take my friend's word for it. It doesn't shock me, though. We're seeing it written, produced and acted out right here in Berkeley, California, "The Alamo," I've coined it. So if it is here, it's everywhere by now.
All this began with blaming the poor and homeless for the financial issues of businesses on Shattuck Avenue and Telegraph Avenues respectively, and now the focus will be on more poor and homeless folks because they are already deemed by most as "suspicious," so anything they do will in turn be "suspicious behavior." Oh, and one last bit of irony before I end this "rant": I've been reading Seth Rosenfeld's book, "Subversives:The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power" and what I found was, it was the merchants who kept the hippies and street kids right where they sit today.
The merchants were afraid their rents would "soar," so they sided with the street kids and hippies. Otherwise, the school would have put in high-rise apartments and would have most likely charged exorbitant amounts for rent, which would have increased the property value, which meant, just like now, since those businesses do not own the land they peddle from, they would have to pay their Master -- the Land Owner -- more money for rent. And it wasn't only the businesses, either. It was also residents who did not wish to lose their homes either.
Think I'm making it up?
"The redevelopment plan, however, was defeated by a 'coalition of merchants' who feared their rents would soar, because students relied on the cheap housing, and longtime residents who wanted to keep their homes.
"Chancellor Roger Heyns then suggested that the university acquire log 1875-2 (now 'People's Park') to build what he publicly said was an 'urgently needed soccer field.' But as the regent Fred Dutton later told 'Ramparts' magazine, Heyns privately pitched his proposal to the regents as a way to abate a troublesome population -- as 'an act against the hippie culture.' The board approved purchasing the log for $1.3 million in 1967, demolishing the rooming houses there, and in the following ten months the parcel fell into desuetude."
So there it is. Irony of all ironies. And I am not finished with that story, either. Currently I work on that story. With the backdrop of all this scapegoating and blaming I find it very ironic and refreshing the Truth. It is true! "The Truth shall set you free!" I've been arguing with someone on the other side of this debate, and she works at Caffe Mediterrraneum ('The Med' to locals). Even more irony is that The Med has been here since the beginning, and was one of those businesses back in '69 who sided against development and higher rents. And even more ironic is, when you go to The Med's website, this is the quote you get:
" Welcome to the Med
The Med has served Berkeley's academic, business and art communities since 1957; witnessing the Beat Generation, Free Speech Movement and creation of People's Park -- not to mention the countless hatchings of schemes, businesses, careers and romances. Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Jerry Rubin and Patty Hearst were all regulars, and now we look forward to making your acquaintance...
... we'll meet you at the Med!"
I like this: " not to mention the countless hatchings of schemes, businesses, careers and romances."
Yeah, just don't be "homeless" and do it in front of their establishment.
And "witnessing the Free Speech Movement"???
So, just like most fascists, they embrace the culture when they can make hay on it, but in secret, behind the scenes, they chastise and try and remove human beings by using legal terms like "blighted" and "detritus"? It's always been this way. If those who denigrate cannot remove they envelope and exploit that something they cannot remove, for profit. All the while attempting removal, mind you. But if tomorrow, they awoke and someone approached them with a business model on generating revenue off those same street kids, and it was plausible, those same businesses would change their tunes? I don't see the difference. Either something is "blight" or it is not. And making capital on that blighted something should have no bearing whatsoever, correct?
-James Richard Armstrong II