Salt Lake Marching and Chowder Club

Minutes from the Salt Lake City Marching and Chowder Club                                     11/3/15

Minutes taken by Lauren Smith

Attendees:

John Shannon, President SLCMCC

Lauren Smith, Secretary SLCMCC

Catherine Birch, Davis County NAMI

Rebecca Henshaw, homeless individual

Nate Rockwood, University of Utah student

Aiden Tourek, University of Utah student

 Mormon missionaries are prevalent in residential areas in Utah. Why haven’t they broken down the barriers among homeless people? We need to open up the conversation with officials to see if they would be willing to teach the homeless and work with the other churches who already have a presence.

Attendee Nate R. lived near Cape Cod. There, the homeless could stay at the shelter for a maximum of 2 weeks.  There is a disconnect between the people staying in the shelter and the people who absorb the costs. Heroin was a big problem

Attendee Aiden lived near Las Vegas where homelessness is a severe problem. He worked as a hotel clerk nearby. He was in the young men’s service league who provided basket meals for the homeless (the program is called “3 square”)

People in the homeless community are afraid of coming out with their issues.

The City should have more places where the homeless can seek shelter during the day. Many are using free public transportation not for travel, but for getting out of the elements.

Attendee Rebecca is Canadian and has been homeless for 3 years, she spent 1 year at the Road Home and has been in Safe Haven for 2 years. Anti-white racism is a major problem in the community that mainly affects white females. Rebecca is called “white trash” on a regular basis.

Rebecca told us something black males have that is called the “Knock Out Game” where they punch or kick unsuspecting whites in the head so that they lose consciousness. This happened to her friend on Friday at the Weigand Center when he was kicked in the head by a black man with steel toed boots. She has never seen anyone kicked so hard before. The police were not called and no paramedic was sent. There is a fear among victims and service workers that if they call authorities, they will be labeled as “rats” which makes them easy targets for more violent crimes. Luckily, the attacker was arrested later for something else.

Rebecca said that there is definitely a hierarchy in the community and that white sane people are becoming the minority. “The crazies” are the group of people who are most feared internally and externally. There is, however, a sort of justice that is being served which is hard to explain. For example, her friend’s assailant was arrested for another matter.

It is Rebecca’s opinion that the focus should be on the crimes and the violence rather than on the drugs. Many of the drug users are non-violent and they are self-medicating with illegal drugs because mental health services and medications are not available to them. The troublemakers, the bullies and those who have inappropriate behavior are the ones who should suffer consequences.

Rebecca believes that the “them” vs. “us” attitude needs to change. In the general population, it is assumed that all homeless people are bad or disgusting, but the truth is that they have individual problems with individual solutions. She says that the poor are being marginalized again as they were in biblical times and that there is a war raging between good and evil.

How do we get the service organizations to share information? Communication lines need to be opened between the homeless themselves, the service organizations, the government entities and big business.

People who can make a difference are so worried about being caught doing or saying something offensive to an ethnic or religious subgroup that we are paralyzed as a community. The last thing anyone wants is rioting due to alleged police brutality. Everyone is thinking it but no one is brave enough to talk about it.

We need to get women and children separated and empowered. Sexual harassment is a problem.

Broken windows theory: if you allow one building to have a broken window, they will soon all be broken. The theory is that maintaining and monitoring urban environments to prevent small crimes such as vandalism, public drinking, and pan handling helps to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crimes from happening. If we can get the bulk of the people making right decisions, the rest will follow

The only difference between the homeless population and the general public is that the homeless are very poor. We need to follow the money trail and look at the crime to find out what is really happening.

The homeless area has a social scene and there is a certain type of “seductiveness” to the lifestyle

Preventative action such as providing clean needles saves lives and is far cheaper than providing after care

Desperation is well portrayed in “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City”, a tragedy Nick Flynn wrote about his alcoholic homeless father. The movie is called “Being Flynn”

We need to get people “down below” and people “up above” working together