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"Fear and Loathing" in Berkeley, California

By       Message James Armstrong II     Permalink
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What?!  How is the average citizen to know what this looks like?  She writes, "anything 'suspicious,' such as 'people casing homes' or 'knocking on doors'"???  Um... okay, who amongst us is qualified to know what such a thing looks like?!  Anyone?!  And this includes myself, who observers quite a bit and can make certain judgement calls, but shouldn't.  What about those who are "shut in" and watch too much television?  And since when did "knocking on doors" become "suspicious"???

The other night, as I walked to my (sleeping) "spot," I noticed a guy "acting 'suspicious. '"  My first impulse was to watch him, and if I were a Panicking Nancy, call the police, according to this article.  I didn't.  I don't even own a phone.  Don't want one, either.  More on that in some other article.  But I digress.  Then I watched as he crossed the dimly-lit street.  He headed over to a filthy dumpster; he was looking for aluminum cans to sell the next day.  Nothing major.  Just another street person trying to survive. 

But if we were to adopt this Fear and Loathing tactic the police (and other hidden elements) are pushing, we will end up with more problems than solutions.  A man or woman trying to survive is going to be screamed at to "put your hands where we can see 'em!," and if he makes the wrong move, out of being mentally ill from killing people a half a world away to "protect the 'freedoms'" of those marginalizing and scapegoating him or her, and not receiving the care he or she should, could be killed by a police officer.

And for what?  Because a few citizens are being frightened to death by television and people with a certain agenda.  People who don't care about these folks, mind you.  Unless it's to control or manipulate them into reactionary behavior.  Eventually we will do it, again.  It will be another name... and people will connect it to Treyvon Martin.  But by then it would have been too late.  There will be yet another victim of unrelated paranoia and misdirected fear and the price will be maiming or death.

Again, fix the problems at the top and the lower part works itself out.  Will there always be crime?  Sure.  We know this.  Even when economic stability is occurring, there will be crime.  However, that crime won't be as prevalent, because more people will be working and be able to feed themselves and their families and habits. 

I love how the corrupt at the top always attempt scapegoating the people at the bottom... the symptom, not the cause.  The cause is political corruption.  They call it "'misappropriation' of funds."  I (and all my friends) call it "theft" and "corruption."

"'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."

There it is: trying to scare, at the same time assuring they are doing their job with "violent crime," yet this is what the impetus for all of this fear?!  Which one is it officer Frankel?  And what is all the hullabaloo if "numbers are flat or down in Berkeley for most serious crimes."???  This is nonsense.  This is the police trying to grab more power over its citizens.  And they are doing the frightening.  They are blowing on the flames of that fear. 

You also see the unwarranted fear from television and the agenda-driven with,

"Everyone I know feels less safe than five years ago"...

I don't feel any less safe than five years ago, and I have lived on the streets of Berkeley for three out of those five years.  Unless it's fear of fascists trying to " get rid " of me and others, then maybe.  So, if anyone should feel that , it should be the guy living out here; the guy who sees it every day, over the person hiding in their houses, clutching their remote control, going back and forth from FOX NEWS to MSNBC , thinking they are displaying " balance " in their newscast, but those channels are not any more " newscasts " than are Wing Nuts shouting gibberish on Shattuck Avenue that makes more sense than the Berkeleyside article.

Stop all the fear and loathing and start fixing the corruption of those you (supposedly) "elected" and then you will see the crime statistics drop.  Provide real solutions and legitimate alternatives instead of scapegoating certain socioeconomic groups and you will see those crime statistics go down.  Quit creating a hostile living situation and you will see things improve.  What I see out here is systematic harassment of the poor and homeless by the city (and elsewhere), which only serves to create tension and more issues, something the city seems fine with.  Something they seem to want, judging by their (non) actions on the subject.

There are ways to get this done.  But to get the community up in arms, stirring up a lynch-mob-type mentality, is only going to exacerbate things, not address them.  The next thing you know, while attending one of these "block parties," some genius will bring up "citizen patrols," and before you know it, Treyvon Martin will have another victim to pal around with on the other side of this Idiot Parade.

Scaring people unnecessarily is not fixing anything.

-James Richard Armstrong II

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

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