Story Archives 2008

By Jewnbug

09/24/2021 - 10:42 by Anonymous (not verified)
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First Reflections of Trip and Atlanta

by Dee Allen, Joseph Bolden, Queennandi Xsheba, Jewnbug, Luis, Vivian Hain, Dharma, Ruyata

Hustling funds just to have access to a conversation where often times I am the subject and not the story teller required a lot of work.

Foundations and organizations provided limited money, and there are so many of us in economic limbo

Traveling to tell my story in hopes that I will make effective impact to stabilize equality.

The process at the airport felt like I had just entered Hitler's concentration camp

My shoes off and my bags wide open, the commotion over the lotion for hands and body almost taken away, but never will my mind and soul be taken away
riding in the third class economy on the plane I ate crackerjack snake boxes as if these crumbs would actually provide nourishment on a 5 hour flight.

In ATL, and the cost of living high, many people asking for fifty cents, I didn't feel I had left Frisco, still in the concrete jungle with bright lights, big buildings and still house-less.

We are staying 10 miles from the US Social Forum, where we are facilitating a process in which our message IS MEDIA.

We are working, and yet we are still marginalized.

Just to get here to the Social forum is a struggle and a story in its self, a story that speaks to PO' folks having accessibility to framing main stream media, to digital equipment, to policy making, to legislation and most importantly, making laws.

I feel like everyday we have to cross borders, and challenge criminalizing and dehumanizing mannerism.

We are running the Ida B. Wells Media Justice Center in a hallway. Everyone has to travel a hallway to get to a room, but when your room is the hallway, its sends a clear message , " There is no room for you "
However, I am blessed to be here to utilize this opportunity to move towards justice and freedom through various mediums. But the real question is, Are we all moving towards the same vision?�


A Devil to Big corporations

09/24/2021 - 10:42 by Anonymous (not verified)
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Original Body

PNN reports on a panel on Global Warming (why was he the only African Descendent man present?)

PNN reports on a panel on Global Warming (why was he the only African Descendent man present?)

by Marlon Crump

" I might be an angel to communities that fight against environmental issues, but I'm a devil to big corporations, developers, and governmental agencies."

These powerful words by Green Action for Health and Environmental Justice Director, Bradley Angel at a panel on global warming at Golden Gate University, immediately snapped me out of what felt like a hypnotic trance.

Angel was just one of the many prominent environmental directors present at the session, as well as one of the many speakers. There was also a scientist and manger from the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.), as well as a few note-taking journalists and concerned residents from San Francisco and Richmond.

As I stepped off the elevator on the second floor, I walked into a corporate conference world, with only over twenty in a populated attendance, rectangular shaped tables, a wine-colored carpet, and projector slid show of each speaker's proposals. My reluctance at attending the conference subsided and I relaxed a little, as I took out my notebook preparing to take notes- until I did a 360degree quick turn of everyone and saw I was the only man of African Descent present. I suddenly felt like an alien but tried to shrug it off and began to listen to the speaker.

Peter M. Strauss, President of PM Strauss & Associations produced what appeared to be a timeline from the 19th century to present day. I battled through an approaching migraine to absorb the vital information Strauss produced, as he talked about radium nuclides that were buried in the Hunter's Point Shipyard, in the Bayview. Strauss also discussed the 1980s and El Nino and the severity of it's aftermath, nationwide.

According to his background on the item agenda sheet, Strauss was involved in numerous project sites in the Bay Area: The IBM Superfund Site in San Jose, Concord Weapons Naval Station, Alameda Naval Air Station and Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard..

Sitting alongside with Strauss was United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 Manager, Harold A. Ball. They began to take questions, and a couple of them immediately caught my ear. An activist gave both a question and a comment directed towards Ball, regarding the corporate interests of land developers and the EPA's neglect or refusal to stop the hazardous wastes exposed to the public.

Ball responded to the question by the activist, stating that he totally understood his concern and agreed, but he doesn't control what the agency does, entirely.

Sherry Padgett, a resident of Richmond, California gave an all too familiar concern of the levees in that city. "Over the past ten-fifteen years, our levees have been breached and no one from any governmental agency has took the time to investigate. What can we do as a community, as a people do to prevent any further damages?"

I practically knew the answer to this, myself, before Ball answered. " That would a something that the state or federal government would have to do, and get involved," he said. I immediately thought about the aftermaths of Hurricane Rita and Katrina and all the poor communities that were displaced.

The last two forum speakers were Jane Williams, executive director of California Communities Against Toxics, and Bradley Angel, executive director of Green Action for Health and Environmental Justice. Miss Williams gave an eloquent, often humorous, thorough presentation, as she discussed how developers try to worm their way around the chain of liability, by avoiding the costs of removing hazardous wastes, even abusing the Polanco Act.

" It's very common for public agencies to restrict, deny, or delay the process of releasing information surrounding environmental health hazard issues," she said. She also joked, &quotNowadays, it's like greek gods battling, so it's the same between developers, corporations, and the public into getting government into legislating laws around these issues."

Bradley Angel really caught my attention when he spoke about the lengths, struggles and hardships, many people face just to get state and federal government from protecting land developer's financial interests and hold them accountable for not complying with environmental regulations.

He mentioned a small town in Santa Barbara, and the horrendous lengths the community there had to go through simply to get rid of a company that produced deadly waste materials. They exposed hazards to such a degree, that after being falsely promised by the state government that it would remove the company, they literally had to take matters into their own hands and physically take over the entire plant.

According to Angel, " Even after taking that major risk, the company wasn't even shutdown for another two years." He talked about one instance of Midway Village, apartment complex in Daly City where tenants were duped into cruelly believing they had " died and gone to heaven" when they received housing there. However, what the poor residents didn't realize was they were leasing on toxic polluted soil.

I couldn't help but think back to all my really early years, at age 16, working in many industrial factory plants, in my native town of Cleveland, Ohio. In 2002, I worked at my most dangerous job to date, called Ferrous Processing Transfer (F.P.T Cleveland). At the time I was twenty-four, and didn't care about the dangers of an outside production scrap yard line, as long as I made decent earnings.

It required six ten-eleven hour days of standing inside a very filthy booth and wearing a hard hat, safety glasses, boots, and a mask. This equipment didn't stop anyone from being exposed to fiberglass, debris, foul odorous fumes, and God only knows what else was in those crushed car parts that raced on the conveyor belt, from an ancient old mill. Me and another partner of mine, sorted through scrap metals, rubbers, steel bars, and coppers day after day.

I was the fastest scrap conveyor belt picker they ever saw, especially when it came to copper, going over the average of one metal bin a night, to having three filled a night. I remember our quota, or in our case, over quotas, prompted the plant president to come out in the near-dead of the night, thanking me and my partner for doing a good job, every night. Then on an August summer evening, EPA got complaints of the huge blackened dust storms that hit the neighbors, and forced us to shutdown for one day. Looking back, had I not left after nearly a year later during the winter season, there is no telling how I might have turned out, today. I decided no job is worth my exposure to their environmental health hazards.

Giving the past situation, of my employment of nearly a lifetime in Ohio-based factory plants that were a carrion of hazardous material exposures, and the current situation, regarding the current crisis in the Bayview Hunter's Point area, I couldn't help but think of all the residents’ longevity in spite of the inhumane environmental condition caused by the Miami-based housing developing firm, Lennar Corp at the command of Mayor Newsom.

There is a very common and thin line for wanting to " change " or " renew " a large populated area of decent people, regardless of a status quo they may not have, and making false promises of " rebuilding their lives " with better homes. The way I see it, if and I do mean IF, there was a true solid genuine, good-natured effort of caring for the poor people's housing situation by the Newsom Administration, with no intentions of gentrification, then why no effort to rid the toxic wastes that's plagued the community for over half a century?

To say the least, people can't afford to be an angel in the face of seemingly domineering demons. In order to successfully prevail, you got to be the devil in defending all the threats to your homes and environments.


Another world or another mistake?

09/24/2021 - 10:42 by Anonymous (not verified)
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Poverty, Race, Disability, Youth and Indigenous Scholars from POOR Magazine travel to the US Social Forum to realize a new world of media production..By Any Means Necessary

by tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia

P. O.O.R. .

.Scholaz til we die

The Revolution begins with I


The morning air in the Tenderloin was sharp. Small hidden daggers were embedded in the 9:00 am breeze. Micro-business people were trading products, elders and youth of color were convening and poverty survivors were consuming and acquiring different forms of substances to get through another day in Amerikkka.

The sounds of survival, thrival and subsistence brushed past the 21 determined faces of poverty, race, disability, inmigrante and youth scholars from POOR Magazine (and repping the SF Bayview Newspaper) about to embark on a revolutionary journey to the US Social Forum in Atlanta. Residue of past and present domestic violence, low wage jobs, gentrification and homelessness clung to our bodies as we piled into our rented van, greyhound buses and friends cars .. This was the first trip our organization had ever taken anywhere, and the first trip many of us personally had ever taken, which was not a result of a poverty crime, a crisis, an incarceration or deportation.

We were in pursuit of a dream. A realization of a vision of cooperative, non-competitive media justice and media production at the Ida B Wells Media Justice Center at the US Social Forum. A dream we had launched, worked on and struggled to attain for the last year.

The first conversation

" Have you heard about the US Social Forum? " almost a year ago when Gretchen Hildebran, filmmaker and alumni of POOR Magazine ´ s Race, Poverty and Media Justice Institute asked me about POOR possibly doing some media for the forum, I immediately reflected on other social forums that POOR Magazine never had the financial resources to attend much less make media on.

I had heard about how media centers were structured at these forums, how they are often completely inaccessible spaces for disabled media producers, poor folks who are stuck in the crevasses of the digital divide and folks who haven´t mastered the dominant (oppressors) language due to global, local poverty, institutional racism and classism, colonization and border fascism. In other words notwithstanding the radical goals and objectives of the Forums held all over the world, the media production is led by the same folks who always make media, who always have the channels of access and privelege

" Well, why don ´ t we propose a new vision for media production, you know, based on the model of POOR Magazine ´ s indigenous media production. "

Gretchen being one of Mama Dee ´ s best students and a truly creative and radical thinker responded quickly, " that would be great. "

After that conversation Gretchen put me in contact with Josue from The Praxis Project out of Washington DC, we had another conversation in which I laid out all of the aspects of POOR &acture s revolutionary media-making model which included on-site multi-media education in radio, print, on-line and broadcast journalism and finally, a commitment from all privileged media producers to participate in Community Newsroom, a truly indigenous media production center which all members of the community participate and collaborate on media production and where privileged folks with by-lines, broadcast channels, radio slots, share, co-author and co-create media with poverty scholars on issues such as displacement, homelessness, environmental racism, police brutality, workers rights, youth justice, border fascism and indigenous resistance.

After that conversation in which Josue also &quot got it " and was all about the vision, we went to work to actually begin the written proposal and massive networking with other poverty scholars and media producers locally and globally

The conference calls.

Leroy Moore, board member of POOR Magazine, Race and Disability scholar, my brother, best friend and columnist of illin n chillin on PoorNewsNEtwork and I began to take part in a series of frustrating and difficult conference calls in which statements like " real media " will happen in one room and the other media will happen elsewhere.." or we just need a quiet place for journalists to file their stories " showing us that many of the people we were talking to had no idea what we really meant by truly inclusionary, collaborative media, notwithstanding their hard work to make this center happen.

Leroy and I continued to educate and relate thinking that in the end they would all finally " get it " after all they were all our friends, our allies, fellow social justice workers, media workers and advocates.

The Dressing Room

As we got closer to the actual date of the event, space acquisition became the focus of the calls, an email went out that proposed a series of dressing rooms which had no elevator (except an ancient freight elevator) were way out in the back of the Civic Center which would have been completely inaccessible for disabled folks and most people in general. And perhaps most importantly there was no community newsroom or accessible classroom space and in the end only a space for the digitally privileged folks to file their stories in the aforementioned " quiet space. "

Some of the on-call allies in addition to Leroy and I began to get desperate, there must be some other space, I e-screamed.

After no sound a terse email appeared. There was another space. A homeless shelter, The Task Force for The Homeless, which had really big rooms for education, access and community newsroom. Leroy and I jumped on it. Leroy dispatched disabled organizers from Atlanta. A walk-through was arranged.

A " security " risk

After the walk-through in which it was wrongly purported that the space was ok with disabled folks who were present there was a concerted e-push to take the dressing rooms, with codified racist and clasisst terms like " security risk " and " lively " said about the Homeless Task Force, capped off by the culminating sentence, " Do you really think that Pacifica will broadcast from a homeless shelter? "( not said by Pacifica) with an additional claim that it would be " too hot there "

Leroy and I were summarily overruled, leaving dreams of revolutionary media making, extreme access, and open-ness floating into the Atlanta heat

Take the (Ida B Wells Media Justice Center) mission statement, (which I had authored with Gretchen) off of the USSF website, I don ´ t want to be part of a lie,my overwhelmed voice filled Gretchen ´ s voice mail.

In the 24 hours proceeding the decision to take the dressing rooms, Gretchen, Leroy and myself huddled over calls and emails to figure out what to do.

" Keep on girl, you need to bring this," Euenika Rogers a true poverty scholar, media producer, organizer and founder of Green Lady Media, began to take part in the whole process and with her soft urging talked us off the ledge, to proceed with this ridiculous space and try to make media justice happen by any means necessary.

Hours more of meetings, work, negotiation and confusion later- we took Eunika ´ s advise and proceeded with the now highly problematic Ida b Wells (not really)Media Justice Center.

Atlanta- Day 1

By Greyhound bus, by rented Van and by plane 21 of us arrived in Atlanta welfareQUEENS; Jewnbug, Laure McElroy, Vivien Hain, Tracey Faulkner, dharma, and me, POOR Press authors and PoorNewsNetwork staff writers; Leroy Moore, QueenNandi, Ruyate, Joseph Bolden, Dee Allen, Lola Bean, Joanna Letz, Anna Kirsch, Voces de Inmigrantes reporteras; Cheli Centano, Teresa Molina and her two children; Luis and Marcos, Videographers and drivers Arnulfo Cesaraz and Yaya, and PNN Youthin Media Washington DC correspondent; Mari Villaluna . We met up with POOR Magazine media organizers Gretchen Hildebran and Jasmine Sydullah who had arrived several days earlier.

Within hours of our arrival we were on the job, trying to make media justice at the Media Injustice Center. Trying to conduct trainings for privileged media workers on what it means to share power; i.e., by-lines, broadcasts, technology, etc. Tryin to put up signage to direct people to the labyrinthian maze that was the path to the Media Injustice Center. Trying to teach poverty scholas to use the technology, to utilize the extremely un-user-friendly space, to facilitate stories, to outreach, to have some semblance of a Community Newsroom.

The (Fire-lane) Hallway as Community Newsroom.

On our second day in Atlanta we took part in a huge march organized by the USSF. Armed with our Media Justice Center flyers we did massive, street-based, direct outreach. We had the first Community Newsroom planned for that day after the march and the main point was to really get the community to come in, learn, share and make media.

When we finished the extremely long march in the 105 degree weather, we attempted to hold a community Newsroom in the fire-lane/hallway that was designated for the Newsroom. Out of the literally hundreds of flyers and conversations that our folks had with the community of Atlanta as well as other attendees at the USSF, the horror stories of inaccessibility started to float into the chemical laced air of the jail-like bathrooms/dressing rooms of what we were now openly calling the Media InJustice Center.

" People from the housing protest who came (to the civic center) were told they couldn ´ t come in without a pass. "

" No-one could find this place "

" Indigenous elders were blocked at the door cause they didn ´ t have a pass "

" Over 20 disabled folks just gave up when they found out where this was. "

" Three houseless folks were escorted off the property of the Civic Center."

" This place feels like jail. "

As the bodies of the attendees of that day ´ s Newsroom pressed up against the one of the walls careful not to step into the taped off fire-lane, all of the POOR Magazine staff became increasingly upset.

" This is the same kind of oppression we experience at home, in our gentrified neighborhoods, our criminalized schools, our welfare offices, our everyday lives, " I screamed. After the depressing Newsroom was concluded and two of our staff writers who have struggled with environmental racism in the Bayview and East Oakland for years began wheezing from the chemical smells in the Media injustice Center I started to lose it, culminating in a scream to a media pool volunteer.

" Where else can we go? " Leroy and I looked at each other completely discouraged. And then we saw it.


The final straw for the already fed-up POOR Magazine staff was the finding that the organizers had managed to " find " another space for a press briefing that was designed for corporate media ( aka real media- as it had been referred to so many conference calls ago) Upon discovering this I made a plea to the lead organizer of the Media injustice Center to find another space. There was no response.

7:00 pm The Piedmont Room

Large chandeliers tinkled softly in the warm evening air. Multi-colored carpet lined the massive floor. A couple of hours later most of the POOR Magazine staff found the luxury that was the Piedmont Room- we had collectively decided that our only option was to do what we always do as poor folks tryin to be heard, seize this usable " real " media space for our grassroots media production.

8:00 pm-Homeless Task Force

Undress the Media Justice Center. Get us out of the Dressing Room.

We made an elaborate plan including signs, chants and the move of technology in collusion with our allies at Third World Majority. Later that night we ended up at the Homeless Task Force to paint our signs. Word went out via text messages and cel phone to show up for an action at 8:30 the next morning. We would seize the press briefing space as the new Media Justice Center. We knew Ida would be proud.

9:30pm- Media InJustice Center Staff Meeting

In one last attempt to negotiate a sanctioned move – the POOR staff attended a tense meeting called for by the Media Injustice Center volunteers. Nothing was accomplished except a lot of hurt feelings and widespread defensiveness.

10:30pm Media Injustice Center Parking Lot

An unplanned follow-up meeting in the parking lot of the MJC actually began an interesting dialogue between Josue, myself and all the POOR Magazine staff members. People were actually listening to our collective concerns. A promise of a 7:30 am cel phone call with another space acquisition was made. We would still have time for the action if the promises didn ´ t pan out.

7:30 am Next day

The over-worked, and extremely tired POOR staff were unable to reach our morning deadline, but we had another option. POOR staff were holding our Criminalization of Poverty and Poor Folks of color dialogue followed by the welfareQUEENS workshop; Cultural Work and the Revolution in a very accessible space called Mezzanine Right on this day. We decided the logical thing to do was seize that location for that day ´ s Newsroom. It was our only option

12:00 pm Community Newsroom

At 11:45am over 120 people were sitting in the indigenous circle that is necessary for Community Newsroom to happen, a circle possible in the Mezzanine Right location. Poverty, Race, Indigenous, Inmigrante, Youth and Disability scholars from Memphis, Atlanta, New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Ireland and New York. Independent media like Paper Tiger Television, Alternet, Race, Poverty and The Environment, Pacifica and AMARC showed up to actually try this new form of media collaboration. Radical Reference Librarians showed up to provide reference advocacy, Making Contact and the National Radio Project, Community News Production Institute Prometheus Radio Project signed on to do on-site trainings and broadcasts, Housless folks from Atlanta that we invited in and facilitated their entrance, joined us, Third World Majority, and Global Action Project, showed up to offer media organizing support as well as countless other organizers and folks, not to mention the PNN staff themselves leading the revolutionary, collaborative media-making It was perhaps one of the most powerful Newsrooms POOR has ever had. Media relationships were forged - multi-media stories were launched. Voices were heard, documented, integrated and respected.

Revolutionary media was made on nation-wide hospital closures and resulting hellthcare, the criminalization of poor folks locally and globally, shelter abuse of gay and transgender folks from Frisco to New York, displacement of poor folks locally and nationally, from New Orleans to Miami to the Bay Area and finally, the resistance of indigenous folks like Gary Spotted Wolf who would buy back Fort McPherson in Atlanta for a bottle of Jack Daniels was planned as the last act of Community Newsroom ´ s final day. Countless PNN poverty scholar correspondents were seeded for ongoing columns and broadcasts, all of the stories launched were led by their scholarship

By the next day it was clear to us that there was no other space for this powerful work to happen at. After some wrangling and hostile cel phone exchanges the National Planning Committee agreed that we could continue to proceed with Newsroom in its new accessible location.

Even after that the Disability and youth justice workshops planned and conducted in the Media InJustice Center by Mari Villaluna, Jewnbug and Leroy Moore were virtually unattended by anyone. People stuck in the very real digital divide remained there for the most part.

" Are you ready to move on miss, " Leroy Moore broke us out of the confines of the white and gray walls of the USSF to actually get real stories of poverty in Atlanta, including their own frightening anti-homeless laws that include not standing or sitting in public because it might give the perception of loitering which is why an officer told me not to stop and use my cel phone in a small Disney-like gentrified enclave that came with their own private po ´ lice force.

Final Day Questioning A Punitive Security Model for Another World Vision.

On the final day when POOR staff were extremely tired, ill from several personal illnesses, heat stroke, Media Injustice Center induced Asthma and very ready to go home, we were encouraged by several media justice workers who were also present at the USSF to create a declaration to present to the full delegation on what happened at the Media Injustice Center with a vision for next years program and a real media justice center that Ida B Wells would be proud of.

The POOR staff wanted to go up together in solidarity, but we were adamantly told that it could only be one representative on each issue and it could only be a two minute presentation. We felt this was rather strident and typical of the event ´ s overall rigid tone, and oddly not in keeping with the notion of a less rigid Peoples ´ Assembly that POOR had heard about in other countries, but we proceeded nonetheless.

Midway in the peoples assembly an indigenous elder was airing his demands for indigenous reparations and a future vision. Midway in his speech he was stopped and asked to leave the stage because he had run 30 seconds over his two minute time limit. When he was asked to leave the stage, several boos rang out in the audience, some of us, who truly understand and practice eldership felt truly wronged by this act of elder disrespect. There are just some things you don ´ t do especially when you are allegedly presenting a vision for another possible world.

And is there really a place for a punitive security model and rigid western notions of time and productivity in another world I wondered at this point if we are really talking about another world or just another world for progressives who all think the same way.

After the man was removed from the stage I walked over to him and was met by Cheli Centano, an indigenous revolutionary teacher from POOR ´ s Voces de Inmigrantes en Resistencia who was already thinking my same thought and suggested we offer POOR ´ s two minutes to the elder who was rudely interrupted.

When we approached the contingent who was with the elder, they agreed and we all proceeded to the rear of the stage to propose the idea to the organizers in back.

By the time we got back there, several other indigenous elders had followed us and we all proposed the idea to the backstage manager. At that point another indigenous leader joined our group and demanded stage time for the elder with the threat that if the organizers didn’t give it to us – they would seize it with a drum circle. A very reasonable offer, I thought, considering the circumstances.

Within minutes the organizers conceded to give us the time and allow this man to finish his demands.

POOR Magazine staff and welfareQUEENS stood in solidarity on stage as a many indigenous elders spoke and called out the hipocracy of the event. It was a revolutionary moment of resistance and solidarity

At the end of their presentation we all walked off together. The first speaker back on stage was welfare QUEEN and Digital Resistor, Vivien Hain backed by many of the POOR staff standing behind her in solidarity, " it was an act of resistance for us poverty scholars to even get here, why did we have to suffer in a jail-like environment that was completely inaccessible," she concluded.

The two minute rigid security model quickly resumed in lock step. The microphone was lurched from Vivian ´ s hands before she was even done. There was only one problem, the already very upset POOR staff ( including myself) was on another track,, free from the default hegemony that seemed to pervade this stage. We were in another world. A world where people are really heard, where Euro-centric notions of time and productivity are de-colonized Where peoples ´ voices are really listened to and not remanded to jail-like basements, where houseless folks are not seen as a security risks, but rather as people who need housing, where hip hop youth scholars are seen as journalists and media producers not " lively " or a threat, where elders are ALWAYS deferred to and never interrupted and where collaboration and cooperation by ALL people is seen as paramount and one of the most important goals.

welfareQUEEN jewnbug seized the mike, asking why we were being silenced. Emcee Cindy Weisner grabbed it back, I tried to step up to say one thing about access and security at which point she addressed me by name shouting to the audience for agreement, " tiny, don ´ t you want to move on? "

That ´ s odd I thought. The police officer in Atlanta had asked me a similar thing, threatening me with a citation if I didn ´ t comply. I wondered if in this parallel other world a similar threat would be forthcoming.

POOR Magazine staff will report back from Atlanta with spoken word, poetry journalism, Q&A and a debut of The Revolution begins with I the Movie - at POOR ´ s offices at 1095 Market street #307 in San Francisco (at 7th street) This will be also be a benefit for Tiny- gentrification by fire victim- so she can stay homeful- $10.00 at the door ( no-one turned away for lack of funds)


Mad Houser Huts; On the Other Side of Atlanta's air conditioned Civic Center Walls.

09/24/2021 - 10:42 by Anonymous (not verified)
Original Author
Original Body

by Joanna Letz

"This used to be an amusement park. We´ve nicknamed it Fun Town." Joe said with a smile and pointed over to the old pool. "Martin Luther King Jr. drove past with his daughter when it was still the park. His daughter asked if they could go. But that was when the park was segregated. Now sometimes I sit here and play speeches by MLK Jr."

On the last day of the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta a crew of POOR Magazine's Poverty Scholars and Digital Resisters climbed into POOR's rented van and escaped from the walls of the Civic Center. Led by Keif one of Mad Housers architects we rode toward Fun Town. We passed parts of Atlanta we wouldn't have otherwise seen. I felt like we had entered a different world. We passed the gates into one of Atlanta's largest Universities and we went quickly off road down a dirt path to Joe Agana´s hut.

Joe Agana welcomed POOR Magazine into his hut and onto the land he has been living on for nine years. Nine other people live on the land, each with their own hut. Mad Housers build huts for houseless folks in Atlanta. Each hut costs Mad Housers four hundred dollars and with a team of people a hut can be constructed in a weekend.

The heat swelled as we all stepped out of the van. The cracked cement ground reflected the sun. Joe´s hut is only a stones throw away from the highway and from the university with its tennis courts and large buildings. Most people probably have no idea he is living there, hidden amidst the trees. Up above us, a billboard loomed, reminding us we were not far from luxury. The billboard read, "Georgia Tech Tickets on Sale." The cement ground, what was left of Fun Town, proved good land for the Mad Housers huts. Joe explained the land also at one point was a land-fill of some sort. The land is privately owned. Joe retold stories of police helicopters circling above their huts.

Mad Houser huts provide a better alternative for shelter and security than big state sponsored shelters. Keif said, "Give me a task force to write grants, instead of building a 1.3 million dollar shelter." The huts provide a level of autonomy that big shelters do not. Each hut has its own lock. Joe said, "This place beats the shelters. You can go and come as you please."

To even just walk in Downtown Atlanta you must have papers, state issued Identification. Keif explained Mad Housers are making their own ID's.

We stood around Joe's hut as he walked us through some of his life. I listened steadily to Joe as I held one kitten in my hand. The cats and kittens were everywhere, "to keep away the snakes and rats," Joe told us. Around the huts mosquitos swarmed. Joe seeing our attempts at swatting the bugs walked away for a moment and came back with a can of bug spray.

Joe pulled his stove out for us to see. "I just finished making lunch," he explained. Joe makes his own charcoal to heat his hut and cook his food. Mad Housers build the huts and provides each person with a stove. Keif described how the stoves are made. Lifting up the stove Keif said, "The stoves are made from paint buckets. The paint is taken off and the buckets screwed together. At the bottom the screws can be taken out to act like a thermostat… Mad Housers gets donations of wood that is used to heat the stoves."

Joe walked us through his garden. A tall tomato plant grew up from between the cement blocks. The soil Joe fertilizes with his own compost pile. Mustard greens, and swiss chard were ready to eat. Chickens and their little ones were scuttling about.

"There is no electricity or running water. Keif explained, "the city cracked the fire hydrant just down the road. We got a friend somewhere." Sanitation services, water, and power are difficult for Mad Housers to obtain. The billboard shines at night where Fun Town remains without power.

Joe Agana left Bolgotanga, Ghana for the U.S. in 1975. Joe said, "I didn´t live like this in Ghana. I had to learn all this… What I don't have I live without." Joe has two huts, one he sleeps in and the other one is his library. On Joe´s porch his battery powered radio sat waiting to be turned on.

Mad Housers is trying to forge relationships. Mad Housers has a relationship with the university where Joe just received his forklift certification. He is OSHA certified and he was the top of his class, but without papers Joe cannot find work. POOR magazine is looking to find Joe a lawyer to help him get legal status.

Before leaving Joe's we made contributions to his library, some POOR Press publications and POOR Magazine’s own poverty scholarship.

We piled back into the van and drove the short distance down the dirt road, past the fire hydrant, past the entrance to the college, and drove onto the highway. We drove back to the Civic Center and the US Social Forum walls. We drove past the McMansions, also known as the infils that have replaced bungalows, past condemned houses, past what POOR Magazine's Poverty scholar Vivian Hain nicknamed "Legoland Condos."

Poverty exists here in the U.S. as it does everywhere, only the U.S. likes to deny that poverty exists. The U.S. calls itself a "developed" country, a "first world" country, and relegates the use of "third world" and "developing" for those other countries south of here. But as Jewnbug, one of POOR's poverty scholars explained, "I come from a third-world economy right here."

The Mad Houser huts are not the end all of end alls. But as Joe said it beats living in a shelter. At community newsroom the issue of the huts is one of contestation. As Laure McElroy related, "We are fighting to keep the projects but no one really wants to live there…It is a thin line."

"As Tiny said, "What isnt talked about is the criminalization of poverty. If you are houseless in Atlanta you go to jail. I was standing outside, a few blocks from the Civic Center two patrol cars came and asked me what I was doing. The other element of the Mad Housers is the huts provide a safe place away from being put in jail."

"As Tiny also recalled, when poor folks get together to create communes and alternative lifestyles, they are criminalized. Such is the case with Madhousers and was the case in Mumia Abu Jamals house, MOVE, in Philadelphia. But when white folks create communes, they are not forced to go underground, the lifestyle is equated with going back to the land, the agrarian dream.

"Poverty Scholar Jewnbug related her experiences growing up in a camp in Castro Valley. "I lived for a few years with my family camping with other homeless families on private land. These places exist, but people don't talk about it. We moved back to San Francisco to a one room apartment, my mom, my brother and I. I heard the police broke up the campsite."

"Poverty is criminalized so as to send it underground, to make it go unseen. Tiny explained, "This country doesnt let us build shantytowns. In the U.S. you sleep on the streets and you get thrown in jail. In other countries they don't have the criminal industrial complex that we have."

"Joe Agana and the Madhouser huts have to remain unseen and hidden so as not to be criminalized and hounded by police. As an ally of Madhousers POOR Magazine is reporting and supporting Joes daily struggle and his continued fight to gain legal status.

Joe Agana is one of POOR Magazine’s Atlanta correspondents check back for his reports. To learn more about Madhousers go to From May through September 2007, a Mad Housers hut is on display at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in Manhattan as a part of the "Design for the Other 90%" exhibition.


ATA, Weird Sober Trip

09/24/2021 - 10:42 by Anonymous (not verified)
Original Author
Original Body

Ok,I'm back from Atlanta.

Though its humid hot it was cool too!

Too bad The First U.S. Forum gave POOR Magazine

Broken,Faux,quicky,made up access.

by Joseph Bolden

What Atlanta Meant To Me.

If it was years,months, or weeks in planing for Atlanta’s first U.S. Social Forum it was a matter of a month or a few weeks for POOR Magazine gathering its pool of multi cultural-talented folk to Fem/Man-up for this first ever state crossing trip!

Though our van band of plucky people began late because of two seats that are re-installed again we set out in a cottony,white cloud-sky blue Saturday afternoon.

A stop in Hunter’s Point for two or more stacks of the San Francisco Bayview Newspaper to distribute when we get to Atlanta.

It get increasingly hotter,Paris and Public Enemy is blaring in the background and me being apolitical had to listen by proxy.

He tells truth raw and real and I need to hear it a lot more so as not to feel entitled,complacent, or safe.

Black Folk are still targets of opportunity for jail,homicide,suicide,or cop assisted suicide.

Luckily an old style am/fm walkman tape player becalms me even as parallel political,arguments on lifestyle and past personal painful episodes enter in discussions which I cautiously avoid by sleeping or listening to my old, newly,acquired $3 walkman.

Flying through states Texas,Arizona,Navajo lands, and Alabama,which like many a southern bell is full and lush with greenery there is a tragic tale of why so many trees close and high together but that’s for someone else’s story to tell.

After a hotel stay where I and a few tired riders splash,swim to avoid the ever growing southern heat.
[No wonder people here are known to as hot blooded!]

After one more stop in a comfy Days Inn or was it?

We are in Atlanta, Georgia.

All during the trip I keep hydrated by having literal ice baths [that is using ice cubes of melting ice from a donated igloo portable icebox rubbing them over my head, shoulders,arms,face,and drinking cold to warm water not icy water which may wreck the delicate interior temperature of bodies automatic thermostat.

First we met up with other contingent of Poor M who had either flown over by plane or by interstate bus lines.

Quickly we register,get our media tags,U.S. Forum I.D. for names because without one you don’t enter the forum.

Can anyone see a flaw already beginning to form? If as non profit organizations out to collaborate with other orgs, and/or people having difficult times facing and living houseless,jobless lives!

I certainly wasn’t aware still tired not having a full nine hours sleep still groggy though awake wanting to unload my two burdens of back- pack and travel bag.

What happened the next day? Lets say food and flesh had me equally conflicted.

I’ll just call this "The Lost In Hooter’s Affair."


Save Club Six

09/24/2021 - 10:42 by Anonymous (not verified)
Original Author
Original Body

A letter from Angel Cruz, owner of Club Six in San Francisco.

by Angel Cruz/Owner, Club Six

I would like to thank all the patrons, promoters, Djs, artists, and employees of Club Six for an amazing six and a half years. We have owned and operated Club Six trouble free for all of these years; there have been no Ods, no stabbings, no shootings, no underage drinking. Now we have been summoned by the Entertainment Comission of San Francisco for a hearing to suspend our Place of Entertainment permit and our After Hours Permit. This would mean no Djs, no performers, and no dancing for one month. This would put us our of business.

The complaint states that Club Six violated the noise ordinance anywhere from three to nine decibels above our limitations. Over the last few years we have invested over $200,000 in soundproofing. We continue to do more sound work to improve our situation. Regardless of the outcome of the hearing, I am committed to meeting the guidelines the city has set forth. I have twenty years left on my lease at Club Six and I intend to continue to bring quality entertainment to the community and set of San Francisco.

My goal when I bought Club Six was to unite all types of people, music and cultures together in one place where everyone from all walks of life would be treated equally. It was to create one of the city’s top venues in what was and considered to be one of the city’s most blighted and destroyed neighborhoods: Sixth Street. Do you remember Sixth Street two and a half years ago? Friends and business associates told me it couldn’t be done.

Now, Club Six is the largest minority-owned business and employer on Sixth Street. People from all over the Bay, the country and the world stop off there. Club Six is the anchor of Sixth Street and in many ways the glue that keeps it together. It has been instrumental in helping bring more business to the neighborhood and I am very proud to say that I can see my vision of successful co-existence between all types of people being fulfilled everyday.

Club Six is Sixth Street!

For now we will continue to do our business as usual. Please come down and listen to some incredible music, dance and enjoy Club Six. We are open!

Please send us an email in support at and cc the community leaders listed below.

Thank you again for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to won and operate Club Six.

Angel Cruz

Owner, Club Six

Bob Davis

Chris Daly



Urban Solutions


Please help us save our children

09/24/2021 - 10:42 by Anonymous (not verified)
Original Author
Original Body

by Jennifer Polton/Writer Facilitator: Lola Bean/PNN

Please help us save our children!
By Jennifer Polton. Writer facilitator Lola Bean.

“It’s too dangerous. Just stay where you are. We’ll figure something out. You’ll get killed of you go out there.” I didn’t know what to do. I begged her to stay in one place.

“But I can’t take it anymore!! So what if I get hurt? Anything is better than living here!” Chelsea was in so much pain. Years of torture and abuse and mind shattering helplessness sent her bruised and wounded body into an all out purge of her battered being.

I was so scared for her. My heart was pounding and I couldn’t breathe. I knew my stepdaughter Chelsea and her brother Brandon were in serious danger, but I was completely helpless. I didn’t know what to do. All I could do is cry with her and beg her not to run away into the ice storm with nowhere to go and no one to help her. All I could do was try to stay with her on the phone.


The first abuse hotline reports started coming in 2001. Chelsea was 6 and Brandon was 5. They were both living in Moberly, Missouri with their mother Kayela and now step father, Billy. Neighbors started complaining that the children were begging for food and other basic necessities from tenants in their building. Complaints of unclean living conditions, malnourishment, and neglect soon followed. It wouldn’t be long before reports of Kayela and Billy physically and sexually abusing the children began to surface.

The Department of Social Services came out to speak with Kayela, but they did not speak with the children or any of the neighbors. They concluded that Kayela was a good parent and that the multiple reports of abuse were unfounded. That same year, Kayela pulled the children out of school and started moving around without letting Ron, my fiancé and the children’s father, and I know where they were. Brandon started engaging in suicidal behavior.


“Why is no one helping me? Why is DSS leaving me like this? Why won’t they listen to me? I want to run away. Please Jen, please come get me!” Chelsea was crying hysterically and kept gasping for the air that seemed to fail her. All I wanted to do was go and get her and take her away and make all of her pain and fear stop. Ron and I have been fighting for years to get Chelsea and Brandon to safety. I couldn’t tell her why the Department of Social Services refused to help her. I couldn’t understand it myself.

Early in 2002, Ron and Kayela divorced. Kayela was granted full custody and Ron was allowed “reasonable visitation.” When Ron tried to visit the children, Kayela left with the children and refused to let Ron see them. The police refused to help on the grounds that there was no way to define “reasonable.” With the help of attorneys, Ron was able to secure visitation in June of 2003. We couldn’t believe the state the children were in when we finally got to see them.

Roaches scattered from the garbage bag where the children’s filthy, ill fitting clothes had been packed. Chelsea had lice and Brandon’s head had been shaved because he had lice. The stubble of his small round head made a weak attempt to conceal the raw, infected sore that festered there. It was ringworm. Brandon had already been diagnosed, but Kayela had refused to treat it. The children’s physical and emotional pain was visible. They started telling us about the sickening conditions they were being forced to live in. The children described how their home was filled with feces and urine. The toilet didn’t work and moldy food could be found on every floor. Billy had forced Chelsea to engage in sexual acts while they videotaped it. Billy and his family hit the children on their backs, arms and faces with switches from trees.

Brandon had undergone a series of psych evaluations and was being prescribed multiple medications, which his mother was inconsistently administering. In one of these psych evaluations, it was revealed that Brandon had a problem with fire. He had been drawing pictures of buildings on fire. Ron was a fire fighter. Brandon told the psych that he thought if he set fires his dad would come and save him and take him away from everything.

We contacted the Department of Social Services and they eventually sent someone out to speak to the children. Brandon and Chelsea describe the abuse and neglect they have been experiencing under Kayela’s care. DSS concludes that the situation was nothing more than a heated custody battle. Mike Shay states that the children should be with their mother no matter what.


Chelsea had called me from her mother’s house. She had been left alone momentarily, but that moment of solitude ended. Kayela, Billy, and Brandon had just returned home. Kayela saw that Chelsea was on the phone and instantly assumed that she was speaking to her father. Kayela and Billy started screaming at her. “You’d better not be talking to your dad! You’re going to get punished Chelsea. We’re going to disconnect that phone for good!” The screaming escalated and Chelsea grew very upset. I could hear every word they were saying to her as clearly as if they were speaking directly into the phone.

Chelsea begged them to stop. They would not stop. She ran into her room and hid under the bed with me on the other line of her cell phone. She was scared out of her mind. She was sobbing uncontrollably. “Please come and get me. Please!”


The children came to stay with Ron and me frequently during the summer of 2003. That July Chelsea and Brandon told us that a man by the name of Brian Roselius had moved in with him. Both of the children feared him. They said he was always trying to touch them on their butts and looking down Chelsea’s shirts and up her skirts and trying to touch her inner thighs. Brian had a past history of sex abuse in another county. Kayela refused to listen to us when we told her that Brian had been abusing Chelsea and Brandon. She refused to listen to us.

In September of 2003, Kayela, Brandon, Billy, and their friend Janet showed up at our house at 11pm. Kayela was crying. Bandon’s clothes were filthy and he wreaked of urine.

Kayela admitted that two days prior, Brandon had been sexually abused by Brian Roselius. They had just come from reporting the abuse at the police station. Kayela did not want to file a report, but Janet – the friend that was at our home with them – forced her to file the report. Two weeks prior, Brian raped Janet. Kayela was aware that this had happened, but allowed him to continue living with her and the children.

Brandon told me that his privates hurt. I gave his small broken body a shower and dressed him in some clean clothes.

Ron and I contacted the Department of Social Services to try and find help for the children. We could not find anyone willing to help us. After numerous calls, a meeting was set up with a woman by the name of Janna Clark. At the DSS office, we told Janna about Brain Roselius and the horrible things he was doing to the children. We told her about how he was sexually abusing Chelsea and Brandon.

Janna Clark became hostile. She was not angry at the abuse the children were being subjected too. She was angry with us. She was not angry that Brian Roselius was a sex abuser and that our children were being fondled and abused by him. She was angry that Ron and I were trying to do something about it. We were shocked.

Janna Clark at the Department of Social Services told us that she would see to it that Ron and I would be sent to jail if we pursued Kayela or Brian. We now know that Janna Clark is Brian Roselius’s mother.


I have never felt so helpless in my life. I didn’t have any idea what to do or where to turn. I didn’t know how to comfort her. I didn’t know what to say to maker her feel better.

Chelsea begged me to find her help. Gasping for air and fearing for her life she begged me to come and get her. “Please Jen. Please come and get me. I can’t take it anymore! Please Jen. Please come – .” The line went dead.


We could not believe this was happening. We knew we had to find someone to help us. We were able to secure an attorney and hearings were scheduled for October of 2003. The court found that Brandon and Chelsea had been victims of physical abuse and educational, physical, and medical neglect. Ron was awarded joint legal\joint physical custody.

In November, Brandon came to our house out of breath, pale and shaking. He was sick with fear. He stopped at his mother’s house to drop off his backpack after school. When he went inside, he saw Brian Roselius sitting inside with Kayela and his stepfather Billy.

Ron was furious. He wet to the courthouse to file protective orders. Under Missouri statute, protective order papers must be accessible to anyone needing protection, even on nights and weekends. Further, court employees are obligated to assist people in filling them out. He tried twice to file protective orders against the man sexually assaulting his children. Both times he was denied access to these papers.

In December, Ron received a letter from Boone County DSS worker Ashley Smethers, now Ashley Turner, that a co-investigation between DSS and police founded that Brian Roselius had sexually abused Brandon.

Ron and I knew we had to get the children away from that man. Ron contacted Attorney Susan Henry in Macon Missouri and read her the court orders and statements. Susan told him that this was exigent circumstances and since he had the primary custody, he could legally relocate to Iowa with the kids. We finally had the green light to get Brandon and Chelsea to safety. We contacted police departments in Iowa and Missouri to inform them of where we were going and why. We also notified the courts about the move.

In January of 2004, Ron and I moved back to Iowa from Missouri with kids in tow. On Jan. 6, 2004 Ron was arrested for kidnapping.

Ron was extradited to Missouri and was let out on his own recognizance. He was not allowed to have contact with his children until this was settled. Another court date was set and by the end of January, all of Ron’s parental rights were reinstated. On the date of the last court hearing, Kayela took off with the children. Ron and I had no idea where they were for 3 months.


“Chelsea? Chelsea are you there? Chelsea!?!”

There was nothing. No crying. No screaming. No nothing. The line was dead and I was frozen in place. I have never felt so sick and so scared in all of my life. My stomach violently strangled the air out of my lungs and my muscles were locked in short spasms. I was so afraid for her life. She is so young.


We did everything we could to try to find the kids. We knew they were in danger and we wanted to bring them home safe. We desperately wanted to keep them out of the filth and the beatings and the molestation. We did everything we could to try to find them but we couldn’t.

In April of 2004, Ron received court papers stating that there were court proceedings in motion to remove Chelsea and Brandon from Kayela’s custody permanently. We learned the children had been removed from Kayela’s home for 3 days because of lack of heat and hazardous living conditions. No one contacted Ron to let him know where the children were or to let him know they were in danger. His parental rights were completely ignored. The children were placed with Kayela’s parents, and juvenile officers were working to remove custody not just from Kayela, but from Ron as well.

Kayela ran off with the children once again. Again we had no idea where to find them. Since Kayela took Chelsea and Brandon in April of 2004, we have only seen them a handful of times.

- - -

The phone rang.


“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry I dragged you into this. The battery on my phone is low and ---”

The line went dead again.
- - -

For the past three years, Chelsea and Brandon have been forced to continue to endure the most physically and psychologically torturous treatment. Their minds and bodies have been twisted for years without rescue.

Reports show that dog feces and urine were on the floors of their house. Trash and garbage bags overflowed in each room. Moldy food sat out Chelsea was afraid to take her shoes off. She developed huge, red, raw, sores all over her feet as a result. It was foot rot.

Brandon was put on multiple different medications. Kayela was inconsistently administering these drugs and Brandon was sick as a result. He was lethargic, wet the bed and slept ungodly amounts of hours. He had memory problems and could not even remember his birth date. He was hearing voices.

Not even a teenager, and Brandon has been put in the psych ward on at least two different occasions. The second time he tried to commit suicide. He said he wanted to kill himself because no one cared.

Now he is starting to turn his anger outward. He hits and kicks ad bites in his hopeless rage. He has even started to physically abuse Chelsea.

Billy and his family continue to physically and psychologically abuse Chelsea and Brandon and reports show that Kayela still allows Brian Roselius around the children.


“Jen why won’t anyone help me? I don’t understand why they won’t help me?”


We have done everything we can to try and keep these children safe. The Department of Social Services refuses to help us. Kayela learned that she could keep the children away from Ron and I by filing false reports against us for abuse that occurs in her home. Each charge has been cleared, but in addition to fighting for the children’s safety, we are now being forced to fight to keep our names clear so we don’t lose what limited rights we’ve got left. All the while, the children continue to suffer and their mental and physical health deteriorates further.

We have been treated like criminals for trying to protect our children while the people that have committed physical and sexual crimes against their little innocent bodies are allowed to continue abusing them with the protection of the Department of Social Services. We are continually punished for doing whatever we can to try to get someone to help Chelsea and Brandon.

But what else can we do? We can’t just sit here and do nothing. These are our children. They are in very real danger. If we can’t find a way to protect them, who will?


“Jen, please come and get me. I just want to live with you where it’s safe. Please come and get me. I can’t take it anymore. Jen, I can’t take it anymore.”

I told her I wanted to do this more than anything in the world but if we did, we would go to jail.

“But I have to get away from here. I can’t take it anymore!”

The phone went dead again.


Ron has not seen his children since February of 2006. We have had limited contact with Chelsea. She continues to beg us to help her. She begs us to take her away so the abuse will stop. My heart is torn open each time and I am sick with helplessness. I feel like I am failing her because I can’t keep her away from this abuse.

She is only a car ride away and a safe loving home is waiting for her and for Brandon, but there’s still nothing we can do to get these kids away from safety. There’s nothing we can do to get them out of the filth and psychosis and sexual abuse and physical beatings. There’s nothing we can do to get them into safe, warm beds where they will not have to fear for their lives every single day.

We have called numerous attorneys by the hundreds all over the state of Iowa and Missouri, Illinois and bordering states to Missouri. We just can’t afford a retainer. There is a gag order on Ron, so he can’t discuss the case with anyone. Now I am the only one that can try to find help for Brandon and Chelsea.

I hope there is someone out there that will help us save our children. Brandon and Chelsea are begging for our help. They are just small children. They shouldn’t have to spend another day fearing for their lives. Please somebody help us.


Disabled Dumping to Deporting: The United States Social Forum

09/24/2021 - 10:42 by Anonymous (not verified)
Original Author
Original Body

by Leroy Moore

July is here again, the month of the birth of this country and the annual birthday of the Americans with Disabilities Act plus this year the United States Social Forum in Atlanta will be ending in the first week of July. However there has been very little to celebrate for poor people of color with disabilities. Yes, I’m looking forward to networking and helping to open the media airwaves for more people with disabilities and other minorities at the United States Social Forum in Atlanta with my follow Poor Magazine reporter and all maraginze voices but lately poor people with disabilities have been under abuse, crimes and raw discrimination from individuals and institutions. Will the latest abuse, hate crimes and discrimination that I will highlight in this essay be talked about at the United States Social Forum, in the presidential campaign or in our communities after the social forum?

The following cases have been in the media and well documented but once again very few have connected the dots to create not only individual cases but a whole system of abuse that’s been engulfing people with disabilities and at the same time a lack of responds from our federal government. After you read these cases ask yourself what can we do locally and in our communities knowing that our federal government has refuse to sign the UN Treaty on Human Rights of People with Disabilities and also recently President Bush veto the new Hate Crime Bill that would include people with disabilities. Also ask yourself where should the disability movement focus their energy on? Warning, these cases are brutal and might be too much for some readers but they and many others need to be frame in one article and an ongoing discussion with recognition that this is a growing pattern throughout this country.

By now most people have heard about the Los Angles hospital and their ambulance that dumped a disabled homeless man on skid row without his wheelchair, clothes, food and medicine. The above institutionalize abuse happen on February 8th. Today’s headlines in newspapers from LA to NY screamed Disabled American Wrongly Deported to Mexico. What can we do when abuse comes down from institutions, hospitals to Homeland Security? Bush and his administration think that the new Hate Crime Bill will create a “special class,” and it’s not needed. Tell that to the family and friends of James McKinney, a Los Angles mentally disabled man who was attack and beaten to death in May. Last Summer I penned an article about five cases of people with disabilities who were torched, burn some died. Still today there are articles on how patients in nursing homes were scold in bath tubs and thrown bleach on them. One nationwide report found that nearly one-third of nursing homes were cited for a violation involving abuse and that many of these abuse violations caused actual harm to residents, and that the number of abuse violations is increasing.

Atlanta is not only the host city of the United States Social Forum it was the home of Kathryn Johnson , an elderly grandmom who police thought was living in a drug house so they barge in and killed her in her wheelchair. Once again I ask will this and other cases of police brutality and senseless crimes against people with disabilities be apart of a panel at the social forum? The city of Atlanta is talking about withdrawing funds from one of the largest homeless shelter in the city, The Homeless Taskforce. The Homeless Task Force has been in operation since 1981 but like any big city, downtown businesses rule City Hall and both have eyes on the property under the Homeless Taskforce. Poor magazine has planned to hold a press conference on poverty, race, disability and homelessness at the Task Force during the US Social Forum and will interview Task Force Director Anita Beaty. We, at Poor Magazine, hope that this shelter will stay open and fully funded.

This is only one reason we at poor magazine is looking forward to reporting and supporting our follow activists, media makers, agencies like the The Homeless Task Force, The Georgia Law Center for the Homeless at the US Social Forum and beyond. I wonder if the Homeless Task Force was a project of the Mayor like The 24/7 Gateway Center that is the keystone project of the Regional Commission on Homelessness would they have to worry about funding being pulled away. These are the type of stories we, at Poor Magazine, along with our fellow grassroots media makers will be reporting on in the Ida B. Wells Media Justice Center at the US Social Forum June 26-July 1st and we will also make sure panels will address the growing cases of abuse, crimes against people with disabilities who are poor, homeless and of color and have seen a lack of responds by our government and organizations from Hurricane Katrina to round ups by Homeland Security & INS in this country.

By Leroy F. Moore Jr.
Poor Magazine Columnist of Illin-N-Chillin


We're Already poor, if they do this to my family, it will be a nightmare

09/24/2021 - 10:42 by Anonymous (not verified)
Original Author
Original Body

caused by Senate Republicans who are Targeting Poor Children With Proposed Cuts

by Diana Spatz/ LIFETIME

(Oakland, CA) Low-income children and parents from Oakland and San Francisco held a press conference at the State Building in Oakland this morning to protest the push by Senate Republicans to cut more than 200,000 poor children off the welfare rolls to balance the state budget. “Children like me are targets in the state budget this year,” says 13-year old Jasmine Hain, POOR Magazine youth scholar and one of the children who will be cut off public assistance if the Republican Senators have their way. “We’re already poor - if they do this to my family, it will be a nightmare.”

Poster-sized photos of a baby, with a black bull-eye’s target on her diaper, drove the protestors’ message home. “They’re targeting my children,” says Jasmine’s mother Vivian Hain, a LIFETIME member , PNN staff writer and CalWORKs student in Oakland, “to balance the state budget.”

The protestors were members of LIFETIME, a statewide organization of low-income families working to educate policymakers on the impact that the proposed changes to CalWORKs will have on poor children and their families. During the press conference, several media covered the event, while CalWORKs children passed out information on the state budget crisis to more than 300 visitors to the State Building. Four-year old Zosia Scilowski gave her frank assessment of the situation: “The oppressors are trying to take our welfare.”

To break the budget stalemate, the approval of two Senate Republicans is needed. However, a full month into the budget deadlock, Republican Senators refuse to approve a state spending plan unless it includes an additional $700 million in tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy. The proposed tax breaks will be funded by changes to CalWORKs, the state welfare program, that will push nearly a quarter of a million poor children off the welfare rolls – and deeper in poverty. “These proposals are economic abuse of poor children,” said Jewnbug Strohlin, a CalWORKs student at City College of San Francisco active with Welfare Queens, a project of POOR Magazine in San Francisco. “It’s not right to balance the budget of the backs of poor children.”

Under current state welfare rules, CalWORKs parents are cut off welfare once they reach their five-year lifetime limit, or if they fail to meet stricter welfare to work rules. However, under the state’s safety net program, their children can still receive aid. Under the proposed changes, if a CalWORKs parent is sanctioned off welfare, their children will be cut off, too. More than 50,000 low-income children will lose benefits under the proposed “full family sanctions.” In addition, the proposed changes will impose retroactive time limits on children whose parents have reached their five-year lifetime limit on welfare, resulting in the immediate termination of nearly 200,000 low-income children from the welfare rolls. Research shows that since 2003, the majority of CalWORKs parents who have reached their time limit on welfare were working and playing by the rules, but in low-wage, dead-end jobs not earning enough to “income off” the welfare rolls.

“Families like mine can’t afford these cuts,” said Dawn Love, a CalWORKs mother caring for her disabled daughter, while working and attending Chabot College in Hayward. “Don’t punish children because their parents are poor.”

Patricia Arana, an immigrant mother living in Oakland, expressed concern about full family sanctions. Patricia and several other mothers described being illegally sanctioned due to caseworker error, and losing cash assistance, as well as childcare, counseling and other support services that enabled them to escape domestic violence, enroll in education and training programs, and hold down jobs.

The sanction caused Patricia and her disabled son to lose their housing. “If not for my boyfriend taking us in, we would have been homeless.” Under full family sanctions, her son would have been illegally sanctioned, “and my family would have had nothing.” After nearly 18 months without cash assistance, Patricia’s caseworker illegally cut off her son’s MediCal benefits, too. Last week, Patricia won her state appeals and all benefits to her family were restored.

While the proposed changes to CalWORKs will save the state money in the short run, research indicates that such measures may cost the state much more over time. Studies show that after similar measures were adopted in Texas, the impact on low-income families was severe. The number of parents on welfare who were working declined by more than 300%, while 45% of the state’s welfare block grant now goes to Child Protective Services, to remove children from their homes. Says LIFETIME Executive Director Diana Spatz, “when a parent deprives their child of food or shelter, its called child abuse. When the government does it, it’s called balancing the budget.”

The Senate reconvened this evening at 6pm to try to reach an agreement. In the meanwhile, LIFETIME encourages everyone to contact their State Senator to share your concerns about the proposed changes to CalWORKs and urge them to pass a fair budget that values all families – especially supporters in the following counties:

- Alameda County: call Senate President Pro Tem, Don Perata, at his Sacramento office at (916)651-4009 and his district office at (510) 286-1333

- Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, or Santa Barbara Counties: please call Senator Abel Maldonado at (916) 651-4015.

- Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, San Benito, or Northeast Monterey Counties (Salinas, Gonzales, Soledad, Greenfield and King City), please call Senator Jeff Denham at (916) 651-4012

- Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Ventura and Kern counties: please call Senator George Runner at 916-651-4017

To find out who the State Senator is that represents your district, please go to:, go to “Senators” on the sidebar and click on Your Senator.

In the meanwhile, check out tomorrow’s Oakland Tribune and the California Progress Report ( for coverage of the event.

Yours in justice,

Diana Spatz


Don’t Balance the Budget on the Backs of California’s Poor Children!

09/24/2021 - 10:42 by Anonymous (not verified)
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by Vivian Hain - POOR Press Political Correspondent and Welfare QUEEN

It is now time to give poor families what they need to thrive in order to survive!

With the recent May Revise of the California State Budget by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) for California´s poor children and their families on welfare (CalWORKs) were frozen for the fourth year in a row by Governor Schwarzenegger again!

Under state law, CalWORKs grants for poor children and their families are supposed to increase each year – but state policymakers want to suspend this Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) again this year, even though CalWORKs grants are currently 50% below the poverty line – the same amount they were in 1989! Think about what the cost of rent/housing was back in 1989 versus what it is now in 2007!

While the state says it doesn´t have money for the CalWORKs COLA, it plans to make debt payments to Wall Street brokers a year before the payments are due. Poor children are being asked to sacrifice, while state legislators got an increase in their salaries – and the Governor has proposed a Cost of Living Adjustment for his staff!

What Does the CalWORKs COLA Mean to Low-Income Children? In 1989, milk only cost $1/gallon – today it costs over $4! Low-income families are already struggling to make ends meet, and a CalWORKs COLA would give a typical family of three about $30 more every month to provide food, shelter and the basics for their children. Even at that, $30 does not even cover the basic cost of bills today.

This week, the budget conference committee is meeting to begin finalizing the state budget, and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-L.A.) and Senate President Don Perata (D-Oakland) have the chance to add the CalWORKs COLA back into the state budget.

Call: Nuñez and Perata and tell them to"Choose Poor Children and Give CalWORKs families COLAs!"

Senate President Don Perata: 1-866-920-9457
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez: 1-866-920-9458

Contributing Correspondent for this article:
Anita M. Rees, Associate Director
LIFETIME (Low-Income Families' Empowerment Through Education)