California’s Suicide Attempt, Pt. 4: High Speed to Nowhere

Really, the situation in California requires very little commentary or analysis. Just reporting the news does all the work for you.

 OC Homeless Camp Cleanup: 400+ Tons Of Debris, Nearly 14,000 Needles, 5,300 Pounds Of Human Waste

ANAHEIM (CBSLA/AP) — The Orange County Public Works department says 404 tons of debris has been removed from a former homeless encampment where more than 700 people lived until they were recently moved to motels and other housing.

Debris including 13,950 needles and 5,279 pounds of fecal matter and other human waste was found along the roughly two-mile stretch of bike trail roughly from I-5 in Orange to Ball Road in Anaheim, the Orange County Register reports.

By the way, if you never saw any of the videos of the homeless encampment they’re talking about, here’s one YouTub video, about 10 minutes long, that you can dip into or fast forward through to get a sense of things.

I drive by a small homeless encampment in the border of Oakland and Berkeley when I drive to campus that features its own solar power array, and I see people charging up their smart phones and tablets every time I go by. But let’s keep going:

 Bay Area coffee shop won’t serve police for ‘safety of customers’

A coffee shop in Oakland is refusing to serve law enforcement officers for the “physical and emotional safety of our customers and ourselves,” according to the shop’s social media.

Hasta Muerte Coffee, an employee-owned co-op, will not serve officers in uniform and turned away an officer a few weeks ago, as reported by NBC Bay Area.

The sergeant who was turned away from the shop a few weeks ago said he was surprised by employees refusing to serve him, but walked out without any incident or any coffee.

Coffee shop workers did not respond to requests for comment on the policy, but a post on their Instagram account showed a photo with writing in Spanish that says, “Talk to your neighbors, not the police.”

Why not hang out a sign that says: “Robbers welcome, since we hate cops.” Here’s the complete statement the coffee shop posted in Instagram:

Last Friday February 16th a police (OPD) entered our shop and was told by one of our worker-owners that “we have a policy of asking police to leave for the physical and emotional safety of our customers and ourselves.” Since then, cop supporters are trying to publicly shame us online with low reviews because this particular police visitor was Latino. He broadcasted to his network that he was “refused service” at a local business and now the rumblings are spreading.

We know in our experience working on campaigns against police brutality that we are not alone saying that police presence compromises our feeling of physical & emotional safety.  There are those that do not share that sentiment – be it because they have a friend or relative who is a police, because they are white or have adopted the privileges whiteness affords, because they are home- or business- owning, or whatever the particular case may be. If they want to make claims about police being part of the community, or claims that race trumps the badge & gun when it comes to police, they must accept that the burden of proof for such a claim is on them. OPDs recent attempts to enlist officers of color and its short term touting of fewer officer involved shootings does not reverse or mend its history of corruption, mismanagement, and scandal, nor a legacy of blatant repression.

The facts are that poc, women, and queer police are complicit in upholding the same law and order that routinely criminalizes and terrorizes black and brown and poor folks, especially youth, trans, and houseless folks.

For these reasons and so many more, we need the support of the actual community to keep this place safe, not police.  Especially in an area faced by drug sales and abuse, homelessness, and toxic masculinity as we see here on this block. We want to put this out to our communities now, in case we end up facing backlash because as we know OPD, unlike the community, has tons of resources, many of which are poured into maintaining smooth public relations to uphold power. It will be no surprise if some of those resources are steered toward discrediting us for not inviting them in as part of the community.

Finally, what story about California would be complete without an update on Jerry’s Folly: the high-speed train to nowhere:

 Cost for California bullet train system rises to $77.3 billion

The price of the California bullet train project jumped sharply Friday when the state rail authority announced that the cost of connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco would be $77.3 billion and could rise as high as $98.1 billion — an uptick of at least $13 billion from estimates two years ago.

The rail authority also said the earliest trains could operate on a partial system between San Francisco and Bakersfield would be 2029 — four years later than the previous projection. The full system would not begin operating until 2033.

You know, I’ll bet for a fraction of that $77 billion price tag, you could build pretty nice shelters for California’s growing homeless population. Or maybe I’ve missed something and the high speed rail will double as a homeless shelter, since it is a sure bet that encampments will spring up under the high speed bridges.

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