Your Red Zone article, the Homeless No Go Zone (June 19) article has been having a galvanizing effect, but not in the way you might think. When I read it, I thought it might galvanize the unhoused, but it’s actually galvanized the residents of Oxnard, instead. 

Management in the Oxnard24 shelter has asked the police for more patrols in our area this evening, because we’ve been under siege. I’ve personally witnessed more overt and aggressive actions against innocent people during the last two days than I’d witnessed in the previous 13 months combined. 

These brave guys and gals are taking it upon themselves to come way out here, far from population, and drive around scaring elderly folks with close passes with their cars, screaming obscenities, and doing whatever the memo has implied is legal. These actions are in order to show support for people who think they can draw a circle around parts of America and then ban folks from entering them. 

They’re not angry about the memo, they’re angry that it got out. Is this the real Oxnard? 

My name is Peter. I’m 59, legally disabled by Bipolar Disorder and ADHD for over 10 years. I’ve been unhoused (no one is homeless, right?) for just over 13 months. I’ve written several times praising and thanking Ventura County for the way I’ve been helped along while unhoused. Now, I wish I could go back to that time, before I knew what I know now. It’s heartbreaking.   

We know we’re a burden, believe me. We’re acutely aware of our second class status in every transaction and every conversation. When we arrive for a doctor’s appointment with a rolling suitcase, we feel our impact on the room, but not like you do. 

We come across as rude because we’ve given up nearly every single shred of dignity, we’ve become mostly numb to many of the daily degradations we experience, and we’re losing the ability to feel empathy.  

But we’re still people, just as precious and valuable as every other.  

Until you’ve been on the street for a month, you simply can’t fathom what it’s like out here. It’s nothing like camping. And after you’ve spent at least a month on the street, you know more about life and power and leverage than anyone who has not. 

We know more about pain, and loss, and fear, and helplessness, than you do. We’re routinely robbed, abused and worse, sometimes by those who are charged with protecting us. We know all about your lives because we’ve lived them, but you know nothing of ours.  

We know very well that justice works only for those with money. I hate to criticize police, but good cops despise bad cops, so here goes. Today, the answer we’re getting, from police, to questions about the continuing harassment by police is this: “Because we can.”

It’s like we’re living in a different country, under a fascist regime. They can do whatever they want because they have the freedom of ignoring the constitution and their own established laws. They think no one is watching or cares.   

The Red Zone memo hurt our feelings, but the reaction to the news story revealing the blatant illegality of it has shown us that we interpreted it correctly. THEY hate us, and the guy in charge is rather well-known for his position: “eradicate them.” The enforcement of the memo has hurt us physically and emotionally. 

So I’m trying to figure out how many people in Oxnard are disturbed that we’re still legally defined as human beings. How many of you want us dead? 

The distance from the Armory to the first public bathroom is 1.1 miles. So that’s a 2.2 mile hike for people with walkers, canes, chronic pain, bad backs, people in their 60s, 70s and 80s. Just to clear the Red Zone and reach a bathroom, for the crime of not having a house or apartment.  

When was the last time you force-marched your granny across town a couple of miles? How’d she do? Let’s see how she does for a week straight, then tack on another day out of spite. 

If those in city hall thought that opening a 110 bed shelter would turn homeless folks invisible or clear Plaza Park, I’m not surprised. They seem to have a rather poor grasp of concepts like human rights, elder abuse, budgeting, and city management. Why would they be better at math or logic?

And they think no one cares, that writing a memo banning a specific group from being in parts of America won’t subject them to the kind of hatred they’re showing us. It’s surreal. 

“Because we can”? I guess we’ll see. 

 

P. W. Robinson is a resident of Oxnard.