Houston, TX – By now many of you have heard that earlier this week, a bright young child named Josue Flores was brutally stabbed 22 times as he was walking home from school. This happened just two blocks from his home. This came as a shock to the community Josue lived in as well as the city. The community was outraged – how can a person randomly walk up to an innocent child and murder him. Houston Police were quick to make an arrest of 31 year old Che Calhoun who “seemed” to fir the description of one eyewitness. However, describing a black man, 6 feet tall, age ranging from 25 – 30, weighing 200 lbs could identify a pool of black men if one is unable to tell one black man apart from the other, which seems to be the case with the eyewitness, Houston Police, and the District Attorney’s office. The DA’s office dropped the murder charges against Calhoun Friday, citing that Calhoun was able to prove an alibi that put him in Pearland at the time little Josue was murdered. Evidence was able to prove his whereabouts. Houston Police and the DA severely screwed up on this case. The murderer has had time to leave town while police, prosecutors, media, and the public were focused on Calhoun. HPD, along with the lead detective had a press conference on Friday morning explaining why Calhoun was not their suspect while trying to save face on their massive failure. An apology to Calhoun was never tendered meanwhile after his release, he will be a marked man, reputation ruined entirely. Careless actions led by Houston Police and District Attorney Devon Anderson’s office have been plentiful. Even after the epic fail led by Houston Police, the interim Houston Police Chief Martha Montalvo continued to paint Calhoun as a criminal rather than fessing up and issuing a public apology.
COMMUNITY BACKLASH AGAINST THE HOMELESS
By Friday afternoon, a anti-homeless petition started by Petra Olvera asks the public to sign her petition which she intends to send to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s office, demanding the closure of the Salvation Army located off N. Main, just north of downtown while completely defaming the homeless community as a whole, not on an individual basis.
It is clear that Ms. Olvera and her supporters have spent little to no time with the homeless community. It was later determined that Calhoun was not homeless however, Ms. Olvera continues to push her agenda, using a murdered child as reason to target the homeless, using hateful assumptions one moment then the next inserting “God” in her post. Anyone who considers themselves to be of God, should never attempt to oppress those who cannot defend themselves, especially when it comes to the poor. What makes matters worse are the following comments left by anti-homeless supporters expressing stereotypes, fueled anger, assumptions, and more.
Combating issues of addiction and mental illnesses will not be fixed by shutting down the very services needed for the homeless community through the Salvation Army. Services they provide include free meals, housing homeless in their facility, funding homes for homeless who are now off the streets, counseling, medical needs, clothing, and monies donated by Salvation Army to other organizations who are helping the public. Maybe Ms. Olvera and her supporters could focus their anger and energies on how we can better the situation rather than making it worse. Shutting down the Salvation Army will only create more problems for that community and that is why I know Ms. Olvera has absolutely zero experience with our homeless. Diverting energies into pushing for programs that deal with addiction and mental illnesses is a step in the right direction. Not trying to banish and close an organization that certainly does more good for the homeless. If community members are so upset and want change, why aren’t they asking for more patrol units in their area? Why are police off the hook in this case? Laws are already in effect that deal with crime. If crime is on the rise in the area, this is when you call on police or even community watch dogs to assist. What about the homeless who are truly doing all they can to get services by Salvation Army? I’m guessing they don’t matter much to Ms. Olvera and the others who hate the homeless community.
HOUSTON POLICE BEGIN TARGETING BLACK HOMELESS MEN DOWNTOWN HOUSTON
As a homeless advocate, I spend a good amount of time with the homeless community each week over the last 4.5 years. I’m not paid for what I do. Everything is done because I truly care about our homeless and want to do everything I can to assist where I’m able. This includes fighting for the homeless since so many are unable to defend or fight for themselves. As I arrived at a homeless hot spot Friday afternoon, several black men approached me, letting me know that Houston Police requested to see their ID, some were patted down, while the majority were clueless to why this was taking place. What’s worse is that many of the black men didn’t fit the description implied by the police. One gentleman is in his 60’s however his ID was requested with the excuse of Josue’s murder. Some of the men were older than 30 and many of them were much shorter than 6 feet. Houston Police were up and down Main Street in downtown Houston questioning nearly every homeless black man they saw. Police were also questioning homeless black men at Tranquility Park, Houston City Hall grounds, the downtown library plaza, and over by Wheeler St, south of downtown. If a witness accused the wrong man, then credibility is shot. Eyewitness accounts are highly incorrect most times. Is this a case of cops truly looking for Josue’s murderer or intimidation tactics led by police to make it seem as if they’re doing their job? Houston police have been known to harass the homeless over the years for little to no reason at all. It still happens today. If a cop is unable to identify a black man who is 6 feet tall, age ranging from 25 – 30 years, 200 lbs, by pulling random black men who vary in age, height, age, and weight outside the identifying criteria, then we need to have a serious discussion with the police chief. Due to an assumption that the murderer was “homeless” we now have community efforts to hurt rather than help the homeless and police who seem desperate to find a murderer. Meanwhile the murderer is probably long gone since the police and prosecutor took the word of one lone person who couldn’t describe one black man to the next.
Homeless are people too. I have been echoing these sentiments for years because society tends to dismiss the homeless, using stereotypes to fuel their hate and discrimination to further oppress. All that many have left is their dignity. A community and a police department are looking to strip dignity from undeserving people because of careless assumptions. We will always have chronic homelessness. We will always have criminals. There is no difference between a person living in a community who is a criminal and a homeless criminal. I’m certain that not all criminal acts that have taken place in the community were done by a homeless man or woman. I’m sure some criminal acts were caused by an individual who might have lived or have ties to that community. We let the police handle those matters where it concerns a non-homeless criminal, so why now is the entire homeless community being judged and ridiculed now? It seems Ms. Olvera, her supporters, and the police that arrested the wrong man/are harassing black homeless men downtown need to have a reality check, gain some compassion, obtain common sense and possibly check their facts before proceeding against the homeless. It would do all of them some good to spend time, REAL TIME, with some of the homeless. A good majority of homeless are not addicts, drunks, criminals, etc. Criminal behavior is not led by a race, class, gender, or whatever title you choose, but led by individuals on a human level!
In the spirit of countering the anti-homeless petition, I’ve started a petition in support of our homeless community. This to show that many of us are not okay with labeling the homeless in a negative manner and that we do not support cutting services to homeless that are in true need of help. Please link here: https://www.change.org/p/community-we-support-houston-s-homeless
We will be linking with other homeless advocates, homeless orgs, and local homeless charities to assist in countering Ms. Olvera’s attempted action moving forward.