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"Civil Sidewalks"?!-- From a Homeless Person's Point Of View

By       Message James Armstrong II     Permalink
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As time went on, and there were no signs of any "renovations" going on at Tully's, I inquired again.  I was given the same-type nonsensical answer, too.  They were telling me the construction was "going on at night, when we're all gone."  So, I staked out that claim, and sat in front of Tully's, all night long.  I witnessed no such construction crew.  I used to work construction, so I know when work is going on someplace.  You see signs of work going on.  You know, like empty boxes and crates with stuff in it, or leftover garbage... you know, stuff like a new sink, pipes, et cetera?  After a few more weeks of that lie, I was then told the "bathrooms are shut down for good."  So, there we go.  We go from "renovations," to "shut down, permanently."  And then I began to dig a little.  I started talking to sources inside the belly of the beast, and what I found out was who the real culprit was... Gordon Realities.

According to my sources at that time, Gordon Realities, and owner and CEO John Gordon (One of the 'property owners' who 'voted' to bring in Block By Block.  The wording of 'property owners voted' was written so that people didn't realize it was 'business' [or land developers, rather] doing the voting, and not people, because when I ask the average person on the street what they think when they hear the words 'property owner,' they tell me, 9-out-of-10 times, 'home owner.'  This tells me the wording is deceptive, purposefully.  This tells me that only a handful of land developers voted on the measure to bring in Block By Block from Kentucky; a corporation that has ties to high-ranking Republican Senators with connections to union-busting politics; SMS Holdings being the head of this beast, both companies from 'red states' in Kentucky and Tennessee.) ordered the property manager of Chase Bank, which used to share the space with Tully's, to have the employees shut down the bathrooms, as to discourage the homeless and mentally handicapped from patronizing said establishment. 

What the employees of Tully's did not realize was they would lose their jobs... oh, right, they did; I told them this would happen.  They came past me the other day, all of them... all of the former employees (minus one) of Tully's, and they told me, "They only gave us a week's notice!"... um, wrong... I told you guys, six months ago, that if you participated in this act of discrimination, that you would all be "looking for employment in six months," but I guess I was just lucky, eh?  No, more like "luck by design."  The writing was all over the wall.  Some people can just turn it off, I guess.  They can see the truth be presented to them, and still turn away from it, because it hurts too much... it's too hard to deal with, so they ignore it, until they cannot ignore it any longer.

Second case: It was late afternoon, and I was sitting on my bag.  A few moments before this nonsense happened I was discussing religion with a girl of college-age.  We had a difference of opinion on some things, but overall, we were respectful to one another about those differences.  I am more Agnostic whereas she was more devout Christian.  Then, out of the blue, here come two "average-looking citizens," and they were gassed.  They both looked at my signs, at me, and then decided that their alcohol-fueled (subconscious) hatred of homeless people needed a voice.  They would bend over at the knees, right in my face, shouting, "Hey!  Homeless loser!  Why don't you 'get a job'!?"  Other heinous (expletives) I won't repeat were also screamed at me, as I sat, arms folded, never once feeding it.  I asked them to "move it along," and that was it.  At the time they were spitting their ignorance upon me, the girl I had the religious debate with decided she had heard enough, and chimed in, "Hey!  Get away from him!  He's not bothering you!"  she said.  God bless her.  Eventually, these "well-respected citizens" staggered off down toward the Shattuck Cinemas... where trouble would eventually befall them by their own hand... or fist, rather?

These two clowns came out of the general direction of the Hotel Shattuck, where they were not cut off in time, apparently.  After my new friend shouted the drunks down the street, and a minute later, we heard a loud commotion coming from that general direction.  By the time we got to the scene of that crime, it was already around the corner of Kittredge and was being dealt with in the middle of the street.  The police were summoned to the scene, and they were there pretty fast, too.  By the time we got there they (police) were there.  The police drew guns at the participants, I was told; the police had one of the street kids on the curb, handcuffed.  I immediately told the police they "have the wrong guy in custody here."  And, confirmed with my religious-friend, we were able to secure the release of one of the victims in this case... the homeless street kids.  Apparently, after these two idiots left me, they staggered and stammered down to the street kids sitting in front of Starbucks Coffee and started trouble with them, too.  Drunk Idiot #1 decided he wanted to fight when he arrived, and punched a (then) 15-year-old boy in the back of the head!?  Really?!  An Afghanistan Marine, back from hell, is drunk and hitting 15-year-olds?  What he did not count on, however, is that this kid had been learning how to fight (Muay-Thai) for the previous month, so that war veteran did not know what hit him, and was beaten for his efforts... by a 15-year-old.

This is why the police were quick to judge the situation incorrectly, I believe.  You have two average-type-looking citizens in a fight with a bunch of street kids, one of those "citizens" being a war veteran, and of course the police are going to get it wrong.  They assumed something.  And assumptions will always bring problems.  And this is precisely the problem.  The Downtown [Berkeley] Business Association (DBA) is trying to slander and blame the street people for lack of profit, but this is an obvious lie and scapegoat situation.  And the place these two geniuses (most likely) came out of (because that's the only bar in that general direction) is where the DBA does their business -- Hotel Shattuck.  This is the place these two up standing citizens were primed and set loose from, I believe, and attacked homeless people in the process, not the other way around, which is what is trying to be portrayed by the DBA and their Bully Boys, behind the scenes... lurking in the shadows of your very own local government. 

In other words... fascism.

That's 2-0.

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Along with Tully's Coffee, Gordon had Peking Express shut down.  He (and others in the DBA) wanted this restaurant shut down because they provided a cheap option for food for those with little money.  However, and again, by discriminating against a few, you end up discriminating against all, because not only did homeless people eat there, but so did college and high school kids, who live on fixed incomes as well.  Gordon Realities raised the rent on Peking Express, knowing they could not afford it, using the brand new apartments across the street as the justification.  Property values go up, so do rents, apparently.  It's all very legal and very disgusting. 

With Tully's Coffee, I was a paying customer, daily, for months.  Therefore, when they told me I could not use the bathroom facilities, they were discriminating against me, and anyone who bought coffee in there, even if it was the first time they ever walked into the place, even if they were or are homeless.  And, it was done in collusion.  It was done by conspiracy.  Isn't there some sort of law against this sort of action?  I think it's called the "RICO Act."

Especially when you consider these actions were made to discriminate against American Citizens who were paying customers.  And, if that isn't a big enough slap in the face, the site of where Tully's Coffee used to be (in downtown Berkeley) is now being used as a platform for the Downtown [Berkeley] Business Association (DBA) to push their brand of hatred and discrimination.  In the first three windows, as you walk northbound on the sidewalk of Shattuck Boulevard, you will see the DBA's banners.  The banners they hang from the light standards off Shattuck Boulevard, telling people to "taste, create, experience"... I'm putting three fingers down my throat, right now.  The only reason they came up with that phrasing is because it's symmetrical; one syllable, two syllables... four syllables.  Yeah, I passed those stupid IQ tests schools and employers give to gauge their respective students or employees.  On the next set of windows sits two propaganda posters about measure S, and that reads, "We Support Berkeley 'Civil Sidewalks.'  Yes on S.  Helps People.  Saves Jobs."

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This is from that very website: " Berkeley prides itself on being a humanitarian city.  But make no mistake.  Living on the sidewalks is unhealthy. It sends people into a downward spiral and hurts local jobs. Annually, Berkeley offers over $2.8 million in comprehensive social services that are successful in finding treatment and homes for people, who participate.  But there are many who decline our help.  Yes on S has two goals: taking the initiative to help people into services and preventing sidewalk encampments that keep shoppers away from our neighborhood businesses.  Yes on S will prevent sitting on commercial sidewalks during the day. Outreach will take place before implementation, and Ambassadors will encourage individuals into city services. If the Ambassadors are repeatedly unsuccessful, citations will follow. However, Berkeley will erase those citations for the person entering and participating in services.  Yes on S Berkley Civil Sidewalks is a grassroots movement formed by neighborhood merchants, Berkeley community groups, residents and parent groups who want to move freely on our City sidewalks and patronize our local merchants who make Berkeley a special place to live."

Okay, there it is!  If you do not take their brand of poison, you are ticketed and it stands?  So, you are what amounts to being extorted into doing what they tell you to do, otherwise, you have to pay some nonsensical fine?  Hey... what about those people who bring their children out for ice cream?!  When they are sitting on the sidewalk, enjoying their cones, are you going to tell them to "get into a 'program'?"  You see!?  This is not going to work if adopted!  Because it will not be doled out evenly!  It will be only those they deem "blight" for their brand of harassment!  And, on top of that, these fascists are blaming the homeless for the businesses losing money, (Just yesterday I watched as a line going past Tea Fever bought ice cream... all day long.  But homeless people are hurting business?  Does that mean when business is good we are helping business?) when we know this is nothing more than a scapegoat situation.  This also falls under the "quality-of-life" nonsense I first dug up on Block By Block's website. They used that terminology to define what me and my many artist-friends do out on Shattuck, daily.  We sell our art.  My art comes from words.  My friend Mike's comes from a paint-stroke.  Down further, in front of Starbucks, there sits friends who make jewelery and get donations for their artwork.  And the last time I checked, citizens were not complaining about it... they were donating money for that art.  I watch as dozens of curious folks talk to these artists, daily... there is no fear being levied out here.  Oh, and violent crime in the downtown Berkeley area dropped 17% the year prior, when the DBA and city hall were selling you the opposite.

"But there are many who decline our help."

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I'm a homeless student, writer, and activist... currently panhandling my way through school (and life.).

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