Category Archives: Uncategorized

Homeless Advocates Put Pressure On City Leaders To Delay Encampment Ordinance

 

Weeks ago, Mayor Turner announced a plan to get Houston’s homeless off city streets. A program that will mirror the San Antonio’s homeless initiative, The Way Home. The program will consist of a safe area where the homeless can sleep nightly, take showers, use the restroom and utilize services for housing, etc. The program will be considered a safe haven for the homeless. In that same press conference led by Mayor Turner, he also confirmed that he was looking to pass an ordinance that would prohibit the use of tents on public property. This immediately affects those living under the bridge at 59 near San Jacinto called the Wheeler homeless camp. Homeless advocates were recently successful in pulling back Houston police officers who were violating the rights of the Wheeler homeless for merely sitting at their spot, doing nothing criminal that would have police demanding ID’s without probable cause. The property belongs to TXDOT because it’s property located under a Texas highway bridge. The City of Houston cannot cite trespassing laws at that location at this time. For years, the homeless have been living under the 59 bridge so learning that the city was attempting to pass an ordinance that would prohibit use of a tent grew disturbing among homeless advocates.
Homeless advocates pushed for supporters to attend the March 28th City Council meeting and to speak out against the ordinance. Below outlines the ordinance the city looks to implement. The ordinance is poorly written and completely opens the flood gates for harassment of the homeless community led by Houston police.

ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 21 OF THE CODE OF ORDINANCES, HOUSTON, TEXAS, relating to encampments in public places; declaring certain conduct to be unlawful and providing penalties therefor; containing findings and other provisions relating to the foregoing subject; providing for severability

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Homeless advocate Em Payton spoke to the city council with great passion letting city leaders know that “we treat stray animals better than our homeless” which was recognized by CM Kubosh who thanked her for the speech and that he would keep her statement in mind when voting. CM Knox was drilling in on advocates looking to formally confirm whether we agreed or disagreed with the ordinance.

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Shere Dore spoke to council reminding city leaders that “Houston is better than this” and that removing tent structures will only further expose the homeless leaving opportunity for more police harassment due to public lewdness, exposure, etc. CM Boykins spoke of the ordinance citing that the ordinance is there because of transient criminals. Claiming inmates get out of prison, are dropped off at Greyhound then they mix in with the homeless community creating trouble. This is based on “his research”. Homeless advocates are awaiting a response on what exact research was done and how the info was obtained because the assumption and excuses are far from the truth. Above it all, to criminalize the entire homeless community due to a possible few transient criminals is simply wrong.

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Houston Activist Photographer gave a very moving speech to council. This was the first time in 6 years that Burnell McCray spoke to city leaders. That is how disturbed he was over the ordinance. His speech left several council members such as CM Christie and CM Kubosh in awe and thanked him for reminding them of how to be compassionate towards the poor. During McCray’s speech, CM Boykins took Dore outside to have a discussion once again outlining the criminal element of homelessness, using terms like con artists. He stated that the ordinance would be delayed because we came forward in concern over this matter but that it could be passed in the next session.
All of this has been presented because of the gentrified area located next to the Wheeler homeless camp. The last few years, expensive condo’s have been built near downtown, taking over areas of historic value, including homeless communities who’ve long been there before gentrification. Now the neighborhood wants the homeless out of their community in the worst way. The homeless community has been accused of being an eye sore, bringing down property values. Individuals of the community are on a 24 hour watch of the Wheeler camp, calling the cops any time an individual brings food to share, any time a homeless individual lights up their grill and even calling the police when homeless advocates take photo’s of the gentrifiers harassing the homeless under the bridge. Neighborhood men and women have been seen walking under the bridge, taking photo’s and filming the homeless and homeless advocates. At Wednesday’s council meeting, Mark McDermott who represents the neighborhood, spoke to council against the homeless, even accusing homeless advocates of harassment towards them.

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Later that evening a women residing in the area who frequently films, takes photos, flips off homeless advocates for helping the homeless, drives erratically through the streets at Wheeler, called Houston Police when homeless advocate Payton took a photo of the frequented woman who was sitting at a stop sign taking photo’s of homeless advocates. Minutes later Houston police arrived questioning the incident, advising to the woman that on public property we can take photos. Also reminding the woman that they have no power under the bridge unless something criminal was taking place and in the eyes of the officer, there were no laws being broken. The woman took her walk of shame back to her car moments later after wasting tax payer dollars on such a call to 911.

Homeless advocates are once again asking public supporters to attend next weeks Tuesday April 4th Council meeting, assisting advocates in pulling back the ordinance altogether. You can speak to council by calling the City Secretary at 832-393-1100. Ask to speak on the tent/encampment ordinance.  AN ID IS REQUIRED TO ATTEND THE COUNCIL MEETING.

If you cannot attend the council meeting and are unhappy with the ordinance, we are asking people to email your respective leaders. Info provided below.  ALL At Large positions along with your district rep, mayor and most of all, Dist D rep of the Wheeler camp, Dwight Boykins, are all crucial in contacting each to let them know how you feel about the ordinance.

Mayor Turner  mayor@houstontv.gov

Dist A: Stardig    districta@houstontv.gov

Dist B: Davis         districtb@houstontv.gov

Dist C: Cohen       districtc@houstontv.gov

Dist D: BOYKINS  districtd@houstontv.gov

Dist E: Martin      districte@houstontv.gov

Dist F: Le              districtf@houstontv.gov

Dist G: Travis      districtg@houstontv.gov

Dist H: Cisneros  districth@@houstontv.gov

Dist i: Gallegos   districti@houstontv.gov

Dist J: Laster       districtj@houstontv.gov

Dist K: Green      districtk@houstontv.gov

At Large1: Knox  atlarge1@houstontv.gov

At Large2: Robinson  atlarge2@houstontv.gov

At Large3: Kubosh  atlarge3@houstontv.gov

At Large4: Edwards  atlarge4@houstontv.gov

At Large5: Christie  atlarge5@houstontv.gov

 

 

Houston City Council Agenda link: http://houstontx.swagit.com/play/03282017-1690

Police Protest Beyonce Houston Concert With An Epic Fail

Beyonce at the halftime Super Bowl Show 2016 (Images may be subjected to copyright)
Beyonce at the halftime Super Bowl Show 2016 (Images may be subjected to copyright)

Houston, TX – By Friday afternoon, rumors were confirmed by local Houston media that police officers were planning to protest Beyonce’s concert Saturday night at NRG stadium. Confusion set in as to which police agencies were attempting to protest her concert. Immediately both President and Vice Chair reps for the Houston Police Union were quick to cite that Houston police would not be protesting Beyonce’s hometown concert and would be fully staffed to work concert detail for her that night. So who were these officers claiming to protest Beyonce’s show? Speculation was that these individuals (at most maybe 10 people) were from out of town. It hasn’t been confirmed if these were even police officers or supporters of the Blue Lives Matter campaign.
Houston’s Nation of Islam stepped up and quickly indicated they were welcoming any opportunity to watch over Beyonce if there were to be any problem with officers looking to protest her. The NOI also wanted to support Beyonce’s freedom of speech, standing with and in solidarity with Bey’s right to speak against police violence.
Dr. Robert Muhammad who is a long time activist, one of the most respectful individuals fighting injustices in Houston, who is also the SW Regional Representative of the Nation of Islam penned a letter to media stating the following:

“Beyonce is a cultural treasure, an ambassador of goodwill, and Houston, Texas’ gift to the world. Her good works in Houston and beyond outshine the purposeful misrepresentation of her Superbowl halftime performance by elements of law enforcement and conservatives seeking to deflect attention away from cases of police brutality, prosecutorial misconduct, and systemic injustice.
We are calling on those members of law enforcement, whether on duty or working an extra job at the concert, to walk your post in a perfect manner keeping always on the alert. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has given his followers clear instructions on this matter. If for any reason, law enforcement will not protect and serve Beyonce or those gathered to enjoy her performance, the Fruit of Islam will.
We are calling on the Bey-Hive and community supporters to join the Fruit of Islam at the corner of Kirby and Murworth Drive at NRG Stadium by 6:30 pm on Saturday, May 7, 2016 to stand for our cultural icon’s freedom from intimidation.” Dr. Robert Muhammad

Panthers and Nation of Islam stand together waiting for the anticipated "police protest of Beyonce". (Photo Credit: Burnell McCray - Images are subjected to copyright)
Panthers and Nation of Islam stand together waiting for the anticipated “police protest of Beyonce”. (Photo Credit: Burnell McCray – Images are subjected to copyright)

Dr. Muhammad and other local activists including the Black Panthers appeared Saturday evening at the NRG stadium. Men standing in “Formation” dressed in black suits, silently onlooking the area as the Panthers stood guard around the NOI, watching with careful eyes. No one knew what to expect. Initially this “group of cops” had stated that they would be protesting Beyonce’s concert at the corner of Murworth and Kirby, right at the front entrance of the NRG stadium. However, from 6:30 to 7:30, no show as activists continued to protest in silence as Bey Hive concert goers passed by with piercing stares asking “what’s going on?” 7:30 to 8:15, still no show. No media. Nothing. The NOI had dispersed while the Panthers and a few activists lingered still in waiting. The fear was that the moment activists were to leave, police would radio in the protesting cops who’d then show up and claim victory over their protest however minutes before we were to leave, KHOU, Channel 11 News appeared to do interviews and had confirmed that the protesting officers were nowhere near stadium grounds, that they took their protest a mile away – never appearing on grounds as they said they would.

Dr Robert Muhammad: "If for any reason, law enforcement will not protect and serve Beyonce or those gathered to enjoy her performance, the Fruit of Islam will." (Photo Credit: Burnell McCray - Photo's are subjected to copyright)
Dr Robert Muhammad: “If for any reason, law enforcement will not protect and serve Beyonce or those gathered to enjoy her performance, the Fruit of Islam will.” (Photo Credit: Burnell McCray – Photo’s are subjected to copyright)

It is pretty common for groups similar to those protesting Beyonce to coward out last minute or not even show at all. How can one send a message a mile away from her concert? They could have saved their gas along with their time and simply gave a phone interview. Protesting a mile away from the stadium only proved how silly their protest is to begin with. If anyone with common sense watch Bey’s “Formation” video, nowhere in the video is she hating on police. A submerged police car in water in New Orleans very well might represent the many who ignored cries of help by Katrina victims in 2005. It’s a fact that many calls to police were greatly ignored. It’s a fact. Why are people getting upset? The young boy who was dancing with a black hoodie on as a line of riot police stood watching him, only to put their hands up to mimic “hands up, don’t shoot” along with the spray painted “Stop shooting us” on a wall is not hate towards police! It’s a plea to think clearly and rationally before shooting our black men and women! Tamir Rice was murdered by a cop in 1.5 seconds in Ohio which is an OPEN CARRY state. Tamir was merely holding a toy gun which was even recited by the dispatcher to police however the officer pulled up and murdered Tamir in less than 2 seconds. That is not rational thinking. The officer didn’t even give Tamir a chance to put down his toy gun. Yet people don’t get outraged about a 12 year old child as they do a black woman icon who simply sends a plea to corrupt, violent, biased, racist police to “stop shooting us”.

Beyonce's "Formation" stirs controversy. (images may be subjected to copyright)
Beyonce’s “Formation” stirs controversy. (images may be subjected to copyright)
Beyonce's "Formation" stirs controversy as a child in a black hoodie is dancing in front of riot police. (images may be subjected to copyright)
Beyonce’s “Formation” stirs controversy as a child in a black hoodie is dancing in front of riot police. (images may be subjected to copyright)

Is this a case of the massed blindly following the conditioning of this country that cops cannot do wrong no matter what? Surprisingly, after the protest by police was announced, many took to social media sharing their distaste of such a protest while others were quick to slander Beyonce’s intent to speak against police violence that is a very real issue in this country that many people refuse to see. We give special props to Queen Bey for expressing herself concerning this matter which too many celebrities remain silent on. And I think we’re even more proud that she not only comes for our city of Houston, but that she did not let the police protesters deter her show one bit! Way to go Bey and to all who supported Beyonce’s stance on police violence! For more images of the protest that evening, link here:

(Images may not be used without the consent of Photographer Burnell McCray. Using material without consent will be subjected to prosecution via copyright law)

https://www.facebook.com/burnell.mccray/media_set?set=a.1183462141672567.1073741997.100000263770122&type=3&pnref=story

 

 

Facebook Continues To Ban Black Lives Matter Activists Based On Personal Discriminations

Many of us have a Facebook account. There are millions of users worldwide. Facebook has made Mark Zuckerberg a very rich man when he rolled out Facebook a decade ago. Initially Facebook didn’t seem to be so strict concerning speech on Facebook posts. Then one day, Facebook joined Wall Street. It was that moment I realized that with Facebook becoming a publicly traded company, it meant that a lot of changes would be underway very soon and it wouldn’t be for the better.

As candidates gain political steam towards the Presidency in November, we continue to see the worst of the worst appear right before our eyes on timelines and many media pages by comments. Since Donald Trump decided to run for President, he found a campaign platform which would piss off a lot of people. Trump has been hosting rallies across the nation, mimicking the likes of Adolf Hitler by alienating an entire race, culture and/or religion with hate speeches, largely catering to the sleeping and closeted racists. To date, Trump has yet to condemn the white race for ANYTHINGwhite history has done. These rallies have led to many white supremacist racists to boldly stand up and literally physically attack anti-Trump protesters. One young black female college student was shoved by several men at a rally. A black man was sucker punched by a Trump supporter then the same black man was detained by police security right after being assaulted as security never approached the man who did the assaulting. At another rally, individuals who wanted to offer hugs in retaliation to the hate shown by Trump supports led to a woman being assaulted when she tried to give a hug to a racist. And it’s not just men who are openly being the card carry KKK members they are. Many women have been rising up fueling hate from their ice cold veins. They too, carry lifetime memberships with the KKK and proudly display their ignorance. This level of arrogant hate bleeds onto Facebook where they cowardly hide behind their computer screens and pounds away “NI**ER” “thugs” “monkey” on their keyboards knowing that they would never utter the same speech if they were one on one with a person of color.

Heated exchanges are common on social media. However in the last 6 months, these exchanges have boiled over to extreme hate speech, threats, and much more. Facebook holds community standard rules which all are required to adhere to unless you’re a white racist. These days, Facebook employees have focused on their personal biases as reason to ban a person from Facebook.Clearly an employee got their ego ruffled when posting this:

Facebook bans Shere Dore for posting to her wall: "Facebook... Fascistbook... Fedbook... Calling it like it is" after removing the content claiming it violated community standards.
Facebook ban for posting to my wall: “Facebook… Fascistbook… Fedbook… Calling it like it is” after removing the content claiming it violated community standards.

One example was when I began getting banned by Facebook in December 2015. I was banned THREE times that month alone. In frustration for constantly being banned, I decided to air my feelings concerning the harassment led by what I once thought were innocent employees just doing their job. Thinking maybe someone was targeting me, reporting my photos daily which was happening as well however it wasn’t long before friends began sharing a letter that Mark Zuckerberg put out in a press release concerning Facebook employees who would target Black Lives Matter activists using the social media giant to express their opinions. The employees would go as far as to put a strike through “black lives matter” written on a board then replacing it with “all lives matter”. Zuckerberg claimed he would be running an investigation to confirm just how many BLM activists were targeted. For nearly three weeks I was ban free on all three of my Facebook accounts after that announcement by Zuckerberg. Then the harassment began once again. As Trump supporters started to mirror the Hitler salute during rallies, the images that flooded the Facebook timeline was highly disturbing. It made me question whether we were living in Germany or America. Facebook somehow took personal offense to the post, banned me and removed the content. However, one could splash the Confederate flag all day long and Facebook would render the image as not violating policy. How can we not wonder if an employee is utilizing their own discretion to remove content?

Facebook bans Shere Dore after removing her content claiming it "violates community standards".
Facebook bans once more removing  content claiming it “violates community standards”.

Between speaking up against racists who were allowed to openly use the ” N” word without Facebook banning those accounts and speaking up against violent Trump supporters, the harassment led by Facebook employees was redundant. Even after I filed over 40 reports to Facebook fighting my numerous bans on two out of my three Facebook profiles, each report feedback given was robotic and automated. Why is this? Facebook employees can take the time to discriminate when I call them “Fascistbook” but when I appeal the ban, suddenly these employees turned into stupid, uneducated zombies. Having enough of being banned, to date 11 bans on two profiles since December 2015, it was time to air my issues with Facebook all at once. Through the many screenshots saved in record keeping, it was just a matter of time before Facebook was to be exposed as the obvious racist entity they’re proving themselves to be. Harassment becoming so extreme that even the old skool “MySpace” social media was beginning to look pleasant. But what do you do when the largest amount of supporters follow you on the very social media who is attempting to silence those speaking the truth? Where are we at in that investigation Zuckerberg? Or was that an attempt to save face to avoid backlash?

If Facebook wants to prove themselves to be fair and unbiased, they can start with backing off those of us calling out these racists and actually take action against those who are using the hate speech.

Facebook bans Shere Dore for 30 days after a meme created by Dore goes viral, shared over 18k times.
Facebook bans for 30 days after a meme created by myself goes viral, shared over 18k times only for Facebook to remove content.

In the screenshot below, Facebook banned me on my secondary profile after I shared a racist rant intended for a dear friend of mine. When I exposed “Billy White” I was banned less than 24 hours after I posted this. Billy White was able to use his account freely without measures taken against him by Facebook. This continues to be a trend.

Facebook bans Shere Dore after exposing a racist who personally attacked her friend with this rant. Instead of FB disciplining the racist, they ban the individual exposing the racist.
Another Facebook ban after exposing a racist who personally attacked a friend. Instead of FB disciplining the racist, they ban the individual exposing the racist.
Facebook bans Shere Dore after exposing Monica the racist, who had no problem using the "N" word.
Facebook ban after exposing Monica Marquez, the racist, who had no problem using the “N” word.

Targeting Black Lives Matter individuals won’t do anything but piss us off more. It’s similar to police violence and threats made against activists who continue to fight on… Making threats or harassing people only gives us more fuel to fight harder, even exposing racists and racist supporters that much more than when we started out. By now within my right and experiences the last four months, I think it’s safe to say that Facebook is racist. I’m certain I’m not the only one who suffers by oppression of free speech when hurting the ego of white men (or women) as many have expressed their stories of being banned for the same reasons, never seeing any discipline implemented on racists. Then again, when Facebook fixates on a person using personal biases to ban them, it isn’t surprising to learn that the racists who should be banned, are not. Maybe one day Facebook will fade like MySpace did years ago. Or just maybe we can find a genius out there who have the capabilities to create a social media site that would bring Facebook to its knees. In know it’s a far fetched idea but I’m willing to bet that no one ever suspected MySpace to fail as it did nearly a decade ago. To those of you speaking the truth and risking your accounts to spread awareness, I commend you for standing up and not allowing the bully to silence you. To Facebook, shame on you!

 

Judge Overseeing Criminal Case Re Sandra Bland Sets Free Another Killer Cop

By now you know about the case concerning Sandra Bland, a Chicago native woman about to embark on the beginning of her new life here in Texas before DPS Trooper Brian Encinia pulled over Sandra that hot day July 10, 2015 which would change the course of many lives forever. Sandra was found dead in a Waller Co jail cell three days later. Encinia was liable for the initial cause of her death after violating several of her rights and wrongly arresting her. Encinia was indicted of misdemeanor perjury the beginning of January 2016. A charge that’s a slap on the wrist for lying on the Ranger Report. Overseeing that case against Encinia is Waller County Judge Albert McCaig. Another Waller Co official who is in with the “good ol’ boys” as we in the South know as racist white men who hold a lot of power and have been known to look out for each other no matter what. He is intertwined with Waller County DA Elton Mathis and Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith so learning that Judge McCaig was attached to the case of the shooting death of Yvette Smith by ex-officer Daniel Willis is alarming but not surprising.

47 Year old Yvette Smith was murdered by Bastrop Officer Daniel Willis.
47 Year old Yvette Smith was murdered by Bastrop Officer Daniel Willis.

Yvette Smith, a 47 year old black woman, had simply opened the front door and was murdered within seconds without warning on February 16, 2014 by Daniel Willis. A call had been placed to police cited by the dispatcher claiming that a woman called complaining about two men outside fighting over a gun. However individuals inside the home where the call was made indicated that a gun was never mentioned and that it was a tussle over money. Initially the police along with Willis claimed that the moment Yvette stepped out of the door, that they saw a weapon. However, as cops tend to do when they’ve murdered someone in cold blood, the cops lied. The Bastrop Sheriff Dept later retracted their statement that Yvette had a gun on her when she stepped out of the door onto her front porch however the damage had been done as the cover-up began, a statement made by Sheriff Pickering shortly after the shooting.

Media Press Release via Bastrop Co Sheriff Dept shortly after the murder of Yvette Smith.
Media Press Release via Bastrop Co Sheriff Dept shortly after the murder of Yvette Smith.
 LIES, LIES, AND MORE LIES!!!

A few weeks after the shooting, an investigation led by Bastrop Sheriff Office cited that several supervisors had “altered” Willis’ field training records after the shooting to ensure the records were completed accurately. A lieutenant and a sergeant were demoted to patrol deputy and five additional supervisors also faced disciplinary action because of the record changes. “I honestly don’t believe there was any ill-will or malice. They knew the records were not up to date prior to the incident and were in the process of correcting them,” said Sheriff Terry Pickering.

Of course cops always like to clear themselves of any wrong doing and refuse to accept accountability on their part which is clearly indicated by Sheriff Pickering. In June 2014 a grand jury indicted Willis for murder. Willis was also fired from the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office.

Thursday afternoon Judge McCaig

http://launch.newsinc.com/share.html?trackingGroup=90105&siteSection=statesman_nws_loc_sty_ppap&videoId=30595965

(Statesman.com video credit)

By now many of us know all too well how hearing “Not Guilty” or a Grand Jury coming back issuing a no-bill against an officer who has killed an innocent man or woman, usually black. Many across the nation continue to work harder in the Black Lives Matter movements by tackling corrupted DA’s, Judges, Police Officers, Mayors, Media and more. We are adding black lives to the list daily meanwhile the list of egotistical, arrogant cops like Daniel Willis who admitted that he had no remorse for killing Yvette Smith, continues to grow. Various individuals took to social media claiming that there was a time and a place to react to the verdict and displaying that kind of emotion in the courtroom itself needed to be withheld until after they exited the courtroom.

A Facebook User condemns the raw emotion in a courtroom after a Judge freed a cop who murdered Yvette Smith
A Facebook User condemns the raw emotion in a courtroom after a Judge freed a cop who murdered Yvette Smith

Well, I know I’m not alone when I say that the time of us sitting down, being respectful, diligent, kissing ass, and begging to be heard is long done. Seeing how we’ve been using that path for quite some time yet we continue to lose minority lives in record numbers, this isn’t the time to hand a flower to the oppressor and beg them to listen to our pleas. We’re reaching a time where people are going to rise up and begin fighting back in their own right. Staying silence is no longer an option. We’re at a crucial time where it’s imperative that BLM continue to educate the masses about police violence while continuing to work against this white supremacist system because at the end of the day, we are one bullet away… one police confrontation away from becoming the new hashtag.

Homeless war veteran issued a citation for looking for food in a garbage can

“What?!?!” “How did that happen?” “Is that even a law?” “I have never heard of that ordinance!”

These were the responses I heard when I expressed my irate feelings over a local homeless war veteran, James Kelly, who was issued a citation for “dumpster diving” in downtown Houston days ago. As a volunteer of Food Not Bombs and HAP (Houston Advocate Program) my main interest consist of assisting the homeless in utilizing coats, blankets, toiletries and assisting individuals in cutting through the red tape they are often faced with concerning their benefits and more. Because these individuals are homeless, the city and county have a tendency to look down upon these men and women who just need a little help.

In working with Food Not Bombs, I met Mr. Kelly (who calls himself “Bear”) a while back. The first thought when you interact with him: he was a big teddy bear. He is well spoken, cares deeply for others and is highly intelligent. So it was to my surprise when I had arrived at the food sharing Friday night when Bear approached me with a pink piece of paper in his hand. He quietly asked if he could speak to me. We shuffled off to a remote area when Bear opened up a piece of paper, allowing me to read the text. I was appalled when I read the description, “DISTURBING THE CONTENTS OF A GARBAGE CAN IN THE DOWNTOWN CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT.”

Bear stated that there is an individual who purchases donuts and will intentionally discard a bag of donuts for the homeless to purposely find and eat. A gesture most likely done because the City of Houston has made it illegal for any individual or group to feed more than 5-people on public space without being fined up to $2,000 or could be arrested if one failed to comply. Mayor Parker and several council members passed an ordinance April 2012 which became law in July 2012, that made it illegal to feed Houston’s hungry without special permission from Mayor Parker. Months before the ordinance was passed by city leaders, hundreds of citizens flocked to weekly council meetings addressing their distaste and concern for the ordinance. One person after another was consistently ignored by Mayor Parker and Councilman James Rodriguez (District I) who once championed himself in stating, “treat our homeless with dignity, to be more efficient and to protect public property.” Rodriguez spearheaded the anti-feeding ordinance from start to finish with Mayor Parker in constant support of Rodriguez. The city indicated that there was a food safety concern then changed their concern to trash issues although Republic Trash Service had offered to pick up the trash at no cost to the taxpayer, as a way to show support for those who were AGAINST the food ordinance. There are also laws in effect for littering. Food safety concerns need not be pointed at caring individuals who work relentlessly on any given day to serve hot and healthy meals to those who are hungry, but the city should investigate Star of Hope Women’s shelter located on Houston’s east end of downtown. Star of Hope went on record at city council meetings offering their support FOR the feeding ordinance. Many would wonder if SOH cared so much for the homeless, then why would they support the feeding law? Simple: SOH is given funding in accordance with the number of people they serve, especially children. SOH loses funding if others around the city are caring for their needs. After investigating SOH Women’s shelter early 2012, food safety was my top concern as undercooked chicken, undercooked rice, expired can goods, day old bread and milk were served at the shelter. Several women and children would get sick shortly after eating their meals. I had even advised the Mayor’s office that the city needed to make an unannounced health inspection visit to SOH. To date, the Mayor has not responded to my inquiry after reciting my findings. Because Mr. Kelly’s story is gaining momentum and sparked an outrage among the citizens, Star of Hope’s Scott Arthur who is the Director of Public Relations went on record earlier today on 92 FM Houston News stating that many homeless do not utilize shelters because they do not want to adhere to rules and structure and that SOH is waiting by should the homeless need their help. However, this could not be further from the truth. Along with my investigation at SOH, it was disturbing to see so many homeless families mistreated by SOH volunteers and staff, almost treated like criminals. In bringing this matter to the attention concerning a few staff members who would act subservient and talk down to those in dire straights, I was met with finger pointing which positioned towards the homeless as if to say, they more than likely did something in order to be mistreated, snapped at, rudely spoken to and so on. Staff attitudes were not dealt with. SOH also tends to rely on “God’s work” in assisting the homeless as they hold weekly church services in their facility in which you either have to attend or one must get off the SOH grounds altogether, only being able to return after services are over. Seems hypocritical. Over and over again, many homeless stress that they do not utilize shelters because they are not only mistreated but made to feel as if they are not worthy of those things that make us feel special as a human being, and most of all, stripping their dignity. Star of Hope loses credibility as they should focus on their own issues rather than speaking of the homeless in this manner.

Moments after Mr. Kelly handed me his citation, I went to Facebook to express my outrage over the matter, requesting that we citizens assist him. Within minutes, Mr. Kelly had obtained civil rights attorney, Randall Kallinen. By Sunday afternoon, a copy of Mr. Kelly’s citation and story went viral. By Monday morning, media outlets were scrambling to get the story. The story was even listed on the Drudge Report. A story that has gained momentum and public outcry as the homeless continue to be targeted. It takes a soulless individual to pick on the less fortunate as we’ve seen Mayor Parker do in the last year. Even after the feeding ordinance became law, over 34,000 petitioned signatures were submitted to the city in the hopes to get the item on the November 2012 ballot & allow the citizens to vote however Mayor Parker dragged her feet and offered numerous excuses to why she would not get this done on time.

It is now election season as Mayor Parker is in the hopes to win her 3rd term. The dust seemed to have settled shortly after the petitions were continually ignored however today, the anti-sharing law is now the hot topic. If people are unable to freely give people food, then homeless will have to resort to looking in garbage cans in effort of finding something to eat. Now our homeless are targeted for doing that. At this point, one should question whether it is a good idea to have a mayor in office who can apply these kinds of laws on the homeless. As a political leader, that is about as low as one can go.

Ask not what Houston City Council can do for you, but what you can do for them?

A woman receives a healthy meal by Houston’s Food Not Bombs who feeds those in need 4-times a week. (Photographer: Burnell McCray)

We have now entered over two-weeks since volunteers which include the local infamous Kubosh brothers, turned in over 34,000 petitioned signatures in effort to reverse the feeding ordinance passed earlier this year and became law as of July 1st. Since that point, some groups have dropped out from serving meals to the homeless. This means that other local charitable groups are picking up the slack and seeing an increase in the number of individuals fed. While doing this, these very same groups risk citation which the fine can vary from $500 – $2,000 or even be arrested if the person serving doesn’t comply with the law.

While attending these weekly council meetings held each Tuesday, 2:00 p.m. at City Hall, it has become apparent that Mayor Parker has no interest in what the public has to say. Time after time, Mayor Parker confuses her own words and the terms of the ordinance itself, nor has she given any real answers on how to obtain city permits or how long it would take to obtain these permits. The city itself doesn’t even have answers to the protocol for this law but they continue to arrogantly ignore our questions, ignoring petitioners, ignoring those of us who have relentlessly gone to council meetings each week in addressing our local leaders. It is very disheartening to see Mayor Parker writing her grocery list, laughing at comments being stated and whispering to council members to her right rather than to listen, look us in the eye and at least “act” like she carries some level of interest. However Mayor Parker is so withdrawn from the reality that she’s losing public interest in her political career and frankly, she does not care. The ice frozen over on her face is a clear indication that we are in for a hell of a fight.

Michael Kubosh advised council that their team was in receipt of additional petitioned signatures which were turned over to the City Secretary this week however she openly denied the additional signatures, refusing to deal with the Kubosh brothers. When the initial 34,000 signatures were handed over to the city secretary, one of her last statements was that they were here to serve the people but that no longer seems to be the case. In the least, they could have accepted the documents and the city legal team could dispose or count them however they choose. The city secretary chose to act as the legal team and deny voters the right to petition this law. Of course, Parker came forward with her usual excuses. Lying and exuse making seem to be her 2nd and 3rd passions in life.

In this same meeting, two gentlemen who have been recipients of the feeding addressed the council. The question was posed by Mr. Darnell, “How would you feel if the role was reversed? Why is it that you are doing this to us?” Council member Gonzalez quickly responded citing “food safety concerns” and saw to it that Mr. Darnell had a printed overview of what this law means. The city has yet to initiate any kind of research to prove that food safety is an issue. I have been very clear in prior articles how Food Not Bombs has always served healthy meals. To date not one person has come forward indicating any kind of illness due to inadequete food. I have also noted how several local shelters have served expired and uncooked food. It is no wonder why the choice is to eat meals that are hot, healthy but also served humanely. Many if not all the volunteers express the level of respect that is given by those who are hungry and those who are serving. There is no reason to dehumanize any individual because they are homeless. Having a home or a job does not make one person better than the other. There are several people who have jobs and homes however are monsters to society but are seen differently because they aren’t living on the streets. Society has conditioned us to think of homeless as dangerous, lazy, drunkened people who do not look to better their circumstances. Dangerous, lazy and drunkened people own homes as well. It is about time for the people to understand that we are all human and the only thing that truly separates us is the state of mind one carries.

We live in a country where Congress has an approval rating of 9%. People are not as trusting of leaders as once before. Local leaders are practicing the same behaviors: ignoring the people they represent & enabling special interest groups to run their way of voting. Council member Davis expressed two-weeks ago in the live and recorded council meeting that he had voted for the feeding ordinance because he followed the people he represented in District B which encompasses north Houston area. After not receiving responses to several inquiries made to his office requesting evidence that the people supported his vote, it was brought to my attention by several individuals who had been in attendence of these community meetings that either the ordinance was not brought up or if it had been, the voters were not in support of the law so this would prove that Jerry Davis while on record, openly lied about the very people he is supposed to serve and represent. Our leaders have been allowed feel inferior because what you don’t know, won’t hurt you. It is about time we hold the leaders responsible.

It is well known that Mayor Parker was not happy about the initial article I wrote via the Examiner which outlined the truth of the bill and facts behind the methods of those who voted for the ordinance and also naming examples of hypocrisy. Within a couple of weeks of the article, the Examiner nixed my writing credentials and expressed the reasons which later came out, that I was no longer allowed to write for them. Parker has taken some serious strides to keep this matter quiet. She isn’t favored upon with many local deocratic groups in Houston who have spoken out requesting the reversal of this bill. Mayor Parker continues forward, unaffected and basically does not care while finger pointing and blaming those of us who have overwhelming support of the voters in Houston by stating that we have not been telling the truth to the public of what this law is and what it means. Parker has even accused several of us in trying to impeech her from office. While it is my opinion that no person who could attack the homeless in this manner should not be in office, it is well known that my intentions along with the intentions of all others involved in this fight is that this bill is unconstitutional, they did make it criminal to feed over 5-people without permission from Mayor Parker and without that permission to feed on public space which we the tax payers own, these given volunteers who serve can be fined or arrested, just for giving a man, woman or child a meal.

We understand this fight over the ordinance is a redundant one, we cannot forget that food sharing with permission of the Empress herself is just plain wrong. The individuals who stand to make money from voting for the ordinance are the very same leaders who can be bought over and over again. At a time you bring something forward that you might be passionate about, ask yourself, can you really trust individuals who have received kick backs and monetary incentives to cater to special interest rather than serving you as the voter?

What to do now? Confronting Houston City Council

FNB Feeding Downtown Houston
Children eagerly wait to feed Houston’s homeless (Photo by Burnell McCray)

It’s that time again… time to start attending the weekly City Council meetings held each Tuesday at 2 p.m. 900 Bagby, 2nd Floor (Council Chambers) Houston, TX 77002. After turning in over 34,000 petitioned signatures requesting a reversal to the feeding ordinance passed last April, we are demanding that Mayor Parker & council act quickly in getting the ordinance on the November 2012 election ballot. Since the ordinance passed, as of July 1st it became illegal to feed more than 5-people on ANY property which includes public properties which we tax payers have and are paying for. In order to be allowed to feed, we must get special permission by Mayor Parker otherwise any given person who decides to feed more than 5-individuals can be fined $500 – $2,000 or even be arrested and jailed. Mayor Parker has been quick to blame the charity groups and several volunteers for misinforming the public. However when I openly asked Mayor Parker what she meant by misinforming the public, she never answered my inquiry. I also received feedback in that very same council meeting from Councilman Jerry Davis who serves District B (area surrounding Bush Int Airport) citing that he voted FOR the feeding ordinance due to community meetings held in his district where the public requested he vote as he did. When I personally requested evidence to back up his statement, he agreed to give me the proof I needed. An email was sent the following day to Councilman Davis’ office requesting feedback. To date, I have yet to receive a response from his office, not even an acknowledgement of my request. I feel it is important to hold members of council who fight so hard to be voted in office by us citizens they promise to represent, responsible for their voting methods. In this case, I would like to find out how Davis drew his conclusion on his vote. Did he fold by Mayor Parker who is known to strong arm members of council, did he adhere to special interest groups or is there a political career to be gained should he have sided with these corporations who stand to profit by this law? Council Woman Wanda Adams campaigned using the homeless issues as a way to gain voters by stating that she was going to tackle the issues and work to get the homeless properly cared for but if you were paying close attention in April, you would know Ms. Adams voted for the ordinance as well. A woman who prided herself in looking to help the homeless, holding that as a stepping ground for her campaign surely had no problem adding to the homeless issue. It is well known that Wanda Adams wants to continue her political career in the future. Could she have been bought by special interest groups in order to gain future campaign funding?

Politically corrupt antics will not work in the City of Houston as many volunteers from diverse groups via ethnic, gender, religious, political, sexual orientation, etc, have all come together to fight the city over this law. Houston Democrats are surely not satisfied with Parker. This is when Parker places blame on the individuals who have been vocal in the public. Mayor Parker has never been one who accepts blame for any wrong doing. Her arrogance is very real. Just attend a council meeting and disagree with her. This “my way or the highway” and victim role she plays is quite dramatic on her part and she fails to see that it is hurting her political career. She has even gone as far as to say several individuals have worked feverishly to have her taken out of office. She refuses to realize that it is by her own fault that her political career will crumble. In my opinion, anyone who goes as far as to attack the homeless then place blame on everyone rather than herself, does not deserve to represent Houston. Parker will be up for her 3rd term next year. The public has lashed out and openly revealed that she has lost their support. You would hope by now that Parker would take responsibility but even worse, now that she has the petition signatures, 34,000 voters, she bluntly told those in attendance last week at the council meeting that the ordinance will not make the November ballot. It only took volunteers a few weeks to count and validate the signatures. Why is Mayor Parker dragging her feet?

By now it is obvious that we’re up for a massive fight. Parker refuses to be defeated. The right thing to do should she truly care for the voters is to ensure the ordinance goes on the November ballot. Having over 2-months to do so could possibly save her political career. Unfortunately this would not please the special interest groups who would fund her campaign, as speculated. Activists and volunteers have vowed to attend weekly council meetings until the November election. Should Parker ignore the citizens a second time, then civil rights lawyers are preparing for a lawsuit against the city that would hopefully get an injunction against the feeding law.

All of this is well worth the fight of being able to feed those who want something as simple as a meal. You can help by attending the weekly council meetings. Even if you’re unable to attend each week, even attending and speaking up once is appreciated. This law is not a well supported by the public. Parker is aware of this but continues to ignore the 34,000 individuals who petitioned the law.

Along with the council meetings, there will also be a Community Charrette August 20 – 23rd. This meeting will take place at 9 a.m. in handling the homeless problems with Mayor Parker. The public is welcomed to join. The location is 6300 Irvington, Ste. 502 Houston, TX 77002. Meanwhile the homeless feedings have continued well after the law became effective July 1st and will continue to do so until this law is overturned. If you would like to get involved, please email freetofeed2012@gmail.com or feel free to attend council meetings and/or the Charrette.

Efforts continue to stop the feeding ordinance as 34,000 petition signatures are personally turned over to Mayor Parker’s office

A press conference was held on August 13th in the City Hall lobby as Paul Kubosh, Nick Cooper and Randall Kallinen address the media over new information surfacing over Houston’s unpopular feeding ordinance. Several volunteers feverishly counted and verified all the petitions signed by Houston voters. The results: 34,000 signatures gained. The Kubosh brothers were known for fronting the red light camera petition and was able to get the signatures needed in order to get the voters to make the final decision as the law was placed on a ballot. Voters had decided to have the cameras turned off. The feeding ordinance is now the hot topic. While the July 1st deadline to turn in the petitions of at least 20,000 signatures came and went, unable to meet that deadline, the effort is far from over. A handful of volunteers personally walked the 34,000 signatures and delivered them to the City Secretary.

As the press conference was held, it was obvious that our local media was MIA. Coverage of the events unfolding has been minimal although each media outlet such as ABC 13, Fox 26, Channel 2 News, KHOU 11 among other more visiable medias were nowhere to be found although invited to attend the press conference. Coincidence? It has been rumored that Parker has recently had local major media pulled from covering this all too important issue. Paul Kubosh reminded the public that this feeding ordinance is a grassroots effort. Individuals of various political background have come together to overturn this law. This ordinance is not sitting well with Democratic voters, the very same party Parker is representing. To silence any media from making Mayor Parker appear as if she is not serving the citizens, has been a key effort in keeping voters on her side. The “what you don’t know, won’t hurt you” theory is the game. However there are a a few remaining journalist who haven’t been intimidated or strong armed by Mayor Parker’s recent antics. At this point of Mayor Parker’s career, it is imparative for voters to know just who they are dealing with as Parker is up for her 3rd term come November 2013. Should the city employ a mayor and council members who seemingly bully those who are destitute?

Meanwhile, the feedings continue multiple times a week. Unfortunately due to the ordinance, other charitable feeding groups have dropped out from public feedings due to intimidation, as Food Not Bombs Houston volunteer Nick Cooper, expresses to the public while adding that the lines have quadrupled in size at the FNB feedings because the other groups fear the hefty $500 – $2,000 or even arrest. This means that more homeless will go without meals on a day to day basis because prior to the law, these groups worked hand in hand.

How can you help? Call the city office at 832-393-1100 and ask to get on docket to address your Mayor and council members. A meeting is being held today at 2:00 p.m. at City Hall: 900 Bagby Houston, TX 77002.