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Concentration Camp for the Homeless

by Mike Rhodes (MikeRhodes [at] Comcast.net)
What's next for the homeless in Fresno?

Concentration Camp for the Homeless
By Mike Rhodes

An item is scheduled to be on the Fresno City Council agenda for Tuesday, May 11, 2004 that continues the attack on this communities homeless population. The City of Fresno is proposing to establish an outdoor drunk tank at the Rescue Mission on G Street. If you have not seen pictures of the proposed site, go to: http://www.sfbay.indymedia.org/news/2004/02/1670574.php

The homeless in Fresno have already had their encampments destroyed (see http://sfbay.indymedia.org/news/2004/02/1670555.php and http://sfbay.indymedia.org/news/2004/02/1669592.php ), there is an ordinance prohibiting panhandling, an advertising campaign telling the community not to give cash to the needy, and now we have a proposal for an outdoor drunk tank.

The proposal would be a contract between the City of Fresno and the Rescue Mission to use an enclosed area as a holding pen for anyone intoxicated in public. Does that mean that someone like City Council member Brian Calhoun (he was arrested on election night, drunk, and in public) will end up in this open air drunk tank? Is this new facility for people like our ex-District Attorney Ed Hunt? He was picked up so many times for being drunk in public, he is somewhat of an urban legend.

Sadly, the answer is appears to be no. This new drunk tank is being set up to threaten and intimidate the poor and homeless residents in the downtown area. It is one more humiliating attack on the homeless that is intended to make their lives so miserable that they leave town.

If there was equal justice under the law, they would be building two open air drunk tanks - one in downtown next to the Rescue Mission and another in North Fresno. The North Fresno drunk tank could be established on the vacant lot on Blackstone Avenue at the River Park mall. The open air facility would be surrounded by a chain link fence topped with razor wire. All of the upper class alcoholics would be placed in the North Fresno drunk tank. Since the evangelical Christians will be authorized to rant at the homeless alcoholics at the Rescue Mission drunk tank, why not give Muslim Fundamentalists the authority to run the North Fresno concentration camp? They could give sermons over loud speakers encouraging Calhoun, Hunt, and all of the other alcoholics to repent and become good Muslims.

If none of this sounds like a good idea to you, consider coming down to City Hall on Tuesday and addressing the issue that will be on the agenda. That agenda item reads:

Approve a contract with the Fresno Rescue Mission Inc., to provide alternative placement of inebriated individuals to the Fresno Police Dept. - Police Dept.

Unfortunately, the City Clerk’s office will not tell us what time this agenda item will be discussed. The item was scheduled to be discussed last Tuesday (May 4, 2004) but was pulled at the last minute. The best the City Clerk could do was to recommend interested persons call their office at (559) 621-7650 on Monday (May 10) and see if they have a better idea of when the item might be discussed. If you would like to communicate with your elected representatives about this issue, you will find their contact information here: http://www.fresnoalliance.com/officials/

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