ryan aleksandr graves
Hello, I want to start out by stating that I do not wish to bash or disrespect the city of Flagstaff. Two good schools exist here with a superb foundation of instructors. All the instances I mention are factual and actually happened. I either lived through each event or witnessed them directly. These actual random accounts are so if you know you might influence a stranger or think differently. I have only lived here 3 months before this semester started but what I have seen from the people in power here is Nazi like. In particular their favorite three habits seem to be targeting suspects, showing favoritism to tourists or friends and abuse of power by police detainments and city ordinances that either are or are borderline unconstitutional. When you make a law but only enforce it mainly on the poor, that is unjust and unacceptable. This can only be fixed by lawsuits and voting all your old leaders out for new replacements. This is desperately needed in Flagstaff. While I read this I only ask you as an audience to picture and imagine how much it would take for you specifically to have a series of situations and circumstances suck for you so much, over a 4 day period, that it could feel like 4 weeks to you.
When you ask someone a question to a specific dilemma, issue, or problem you are having and the person does not care about you at all, they typically will give you two answers. Here are a few actual specific examples. Homeless man asks the boss of shelter, it’s freezing, “where am I suppose to go to stay warm”? He Answers, “go to the library or the mall”. It’s a very quick answer and again not the person giving the answers problem. It should be noted that if they are homeless they may not have a bus card, lost it, or traded it away for alcohol or smokes. Another example was my question to the cop who was about to tow my car after a parking enforcement officer targeted me just 5 seconds after I got out of the backseat of my car that morning. I said, “where am I suppose to go where I can park legally when you say the side of every street is illegal”? I have no apartment, friends, or family I can go park at. His response unbelievably was, “you can go outside of city limits and park in the forest and the forest ranger won’t tow you for twenty days”. My car won’t make their and I don’t have money for a tow truck driver so I see the parking ordinance as equal to a form of extorsion. (so I’d be basically kicked out of the city and about 25 miles from my university). The ticket and the website says we all have 15 days to pay the ticket or else it doubles in the next 15 days thereafter. I didn’t get this option because they decided upon themselves my vehicle was abandoned by targeting just me the same way negros or Hispanics are often pulled over for no reason. Again their opinion leads to abuse of authority. Still the employment prospects in Flagstaff are dismal and far worse in the winter.
My opinions are all my own. My goal is not only to enlighten you to Flagstaff policies and typical everyday procedures but to inform you that if you have a local paper that silences the truth and mis-justice of flagstaffs poorest residents, it is at that point nothing can be done but an awareness campaign youtube video or documentary at that point. However if this does not gain any national or larger Arizona station coverage, most likely not even then. This is why we have lawsuits, but if you cannot afford council, you must take it to them representing yourselves. Mental abuse examples are keeping a line of 20-25 homeless people standing in 24 degrees for over an hour because the power hungry person who set the rules does not have to go through and feel the blistering cold himself over an hour, physical, and financial abuse. These homeless people that gather at a local shelter hidden off the main road over by Burger King and Jack in the box is situated in an industrial part area. I wondered if this was to keep the large walking group of homeless walking back to the shelter later that day or standing in line waiting to get in from the tourists view of them or from others driving by who would surely notice many standing outside in the cold at 24 degrees plus windchill. The excuse the other side uses is if they are too kind or keep a place to go the amount of homeless will just climb more and more with new homeless residents. This is a common misconception by those in charge that often forget or do not realize being homeless is not fun. It is not an I don’t have to work party, but rather a span of time waiting for another chance from society, or something positive to develop. Most people who are not homeless assume the homeless can do their laundry at a shelter. This is almost never the case. The shelters either don’t have facilities, they cost money or they have to go to a laundry mat like anybody else. Besides their clothes get dirty so much faster the shelters would rather take donations and give them new pre-owned clothes. I heard others say yesterday everybody got to stay in the shelter all day that had no job or anywhere to go. Having been told all must be out by 7:30 and we have a chance to come back inside when the all mighty powerful Bossman shows up. About 8am he shows up and says we all have to leave, then shows favoritism and let’s about 10 stay he knew by name. This is more evidence of both power hungry and showing favoritism which is wrong. The people who show power hungry tendencies usually have no power at any other area in their lifes routine. The people that show favoritism usually absolutely cannot deal with it being done back to them, or never find themselves in situations where they would want it or need it. Targeting of the poor is nothing new but in Flagstaff it is routine by the police and parking enforcement. Even burger king with their no loitering stickers and managers that ask people to leave schemes up ways to get the homeless income. They sell a subscription for 5 dollars by smartphone for a cup of coffee each day for a month of say December. Sounds to me like they know homeless are kicked out of the shelters across America and many will need coffee and a place to go those first couple cold hours. This seems to suggest just because we won’t hire you, does not mean we can’t profit off you in the meantime.
You college students are their meal ticket so why are the tourists treated so much higher than you. Even in their city council meeting recordings, they bring up and fear pissing off the tourists and their spending. The only mention of you the college students was I quote “you can pay ten tickets and still come out ahead of cheaper than NAU 5 or 600 dollar parking. That’s a fail because if your towed like me the next day after a real ticket when 4 days before that all I had was a warning sticker on my window and few to nobody else’s cars moving little or at all somedays. An old bronco got a real ticket the same day as me. I noticed it on his windshield under the wiper walking back to my car from the library at mid-night The difference is that next morning I was towed and the bronco was left alone completely even though I pointed it out to the officer. I couldn’t start my car to move it because of no spark. This entire letter will be xzibit A to a judge when I ask for a parking ticket court date and that my tow fees be stopped or eliminated for unjust unfair towing compared to others on same street. I don’t believe it is my fault or problem the city of flagstaff has not and continues not to budget for fair adequate parking. Their idea of a cheap quick fix was their winter ordinance barring anyone from the side of the street fine the rest of the year. This is targeting implementation of an already unconstitutional parking ordinance they demand by force in the winter time. It is unneeded though, how did they get through winter snow before the ordinance?
I do not intend to make this presentation longer than the required 4-7 minutes but some facts must be mentioned to you. If I see this city do things right or better than other cities I mention them. One example is the 32degree freezing rule. It means that those in charge of the shelter do not power trip and abuse their authority by telling homeless human beings they have to leave during the day if the temp is less than 32 degrees or freezing. Shelter Management does not care about that common rule of humanity in Flagstaff though instead treating most as dogs. The problem is dogs should not be left out in the cold either. Try it for an hour and do not cheat and go inside somewhere, because the homeless waiting in line don’t have that option. One thing Arkansas did was make the homeless blow in a breathalyzer . All of them, not just those that smelled of alcohol or appeared intoxicated. This was a stupid hassle to those that did not drink and left people out in line waiting to get in out of the cold, even longer. If they fail they can’t come in, but why would they care. They are not Dr. Drew. To Flagstaff’s defense they just punish you just by making you miss dinner at 7pm or not be allowed inside till 10pm. This is more civil then just telling them to leave. The shelter management would likely say if we give a drunk a place to eat and sleep for the night they will never quit drinking. I say if they had somewhere they could at least go when it’s too cold outside they will usually drink less. Even heroin addicts sometimes or eventually quit to try and straighten up every once in a while so I don’t by all alcoholics will never try to do better in society. Many also still function and work day labor. The thing is I studied two alcoholics, one in front of me and one in back of me. They likely get extra drunk because they have nowhere to go from the cold especially between the time of walking back to the shelter in the cold from wherever they went during the cold day.
Now the guy running the gate had no breathalyzer to make them blow in and let most in besides those who were previously caught sneaking alcohol into the shelter to consume more. One man so drunk behind me literally face planted into the snow face first waiting outside in the line. At the same time the man in front of me with a can fell also in the snow. I helped them both up and they might as well have stabbed me than tell me thank you. Regardless I saw both men just come in eat and lay down not disturbing anybody, so turning them away would have made no sense.
I went to the mission shelter first as a last resort only because of the storm coming and would rather have been by myself just about anywhere in a sleeping bag. I get their at 3pm and wait outside in the cold to the new person check-ins start from 4pm to 6pm. I notice a taped handwritten sign on the door that says “NO LONGER SERVING LUNCH” . People show up and put their things down in a line indicating who is the 1st to go inside. I play along and I’m number 4. When these guys finally open the door it is to a room with about 6 park bench tables inside and some Little Ceasars boxes of 4 or 5 day old pizza, a circle cake, and two packages of cookies. You could have gotten newer pizza out of a trash can. Also those that run shelters eat the best donated food, take it home, or give to their favorite people. The rest are left with the scraps nobody else wanted. Anyway they all start insisting my bags have to be locked up outside in a community lock box, but I’ve seen this con scam before and say who is in charge? Sadly even this guy says same thing and I’m not giving them my leather schoolbag with homework or my sleeping bag. I’ve stayed at CASS shelter in Phoenix, the largest and hardest shelter there is supposedly. They stole my entire large suitcase with new clothes and a new pair of AIR MAX shoes inside with the two best jeans I ever had. This after a volunteer scumbag pretended like he checked on my stuff I was rechecking my space for and told me he updated it and my suitcase was fine. Believe me so much bullshit and aggravation exists when your homeless most would rather be working or to get back to it soon. In Florida 2008 at the height of the opioid epidemic and amidst the stock crash a shelter would give 10 nights free, then ten dollars a night to be out of the cold.
Getting Back to the mission the 1st shelter I never stayed at and I leave with my school bag and suck sleeping bag rated at 50 degrees but the pastor my church gave me his. I go to wal-mart and ask a man if he would charge on his card a sleeping bag as I’m freezing in mine even if I climb in a dumpster to block the wind. He says go get it and gives me 20 dollars also. I write down his contact info and try to get him to take my phone and id. He refuses but showed good heart. I get some grapes and a drink and it starts a combination of raining and sleeting. I duck under the wal=mart canopy on the side of the store climb in the sleeping bag and soon pass out. The next day somebody tells on me and three employees walk up and tell me I have to leave. Having nowhere to go I set down one sleeping bag under a bridge with the new one on top of it concerned a dumpster would just leak water on me all night. This sucks also though because the bridge is about ten feet from the train tracks. The trains come by so loud over and over again I wish I had a way to record the audio to put with video. I last one night there but the next day about 4pm my bottom bag is a frozen piece of ice because it’s still snowing and the new bag I’m in is half frozen much the same way. I know I have to get to the Walgreens to warm up and take the bus back to the mission. Their 99% going to steal my chit but I don’t have a choice but on the way out from under the bridge I step in a sinkhole and lose my right shoe. It is 5 or 10 more steps toward the top of the bridge and the road before I realize my shoes is not soaked completely but gone altogether. I look back having no idea which step it’s in and abandon it just like the bottom frozen sleeping bag. I walk towards walgreens with one foot barefoot freezing and try to wave a few cars to stop on the bridge, none do but then I see two Police SUV cruisers go by that noticed me. They didn’t stop either. Finally I get in the Walgreens and ask the manager James if he can hold my schoolbag and sleeping bag because they will steal it at the mission shelter. And if he can call the police for a ride for me. He put my things in a box and taped them up for me. A kind act, I promise to come get two days later. He offers me slippers I decline because I feel he already did enough and a female customer sees my shoe missing. Mentions frostbite and offers me 20.00 she cash backed. I refuse it perhaps foolishly as I am broke but still have some pride. The cop shows up about 45 minutes later but instead of taking me to the mission, takes me to the big shelter. I could have gotten a shower their but all towels were used and dirty. I ate some beans and rice perhaps foolishly and it was hot. They give you a choice of thin sleeping bags or a blanket, most use two. The preferred regulars that stay out of trouble get to go upstairs. Checkout sat morning was 7:30 but they wake everybody up around 6am. I don’t know how checkout rule got changed the next morning to 6:30AM besides they wanted it that way or maybe it was the usual time. I have a place to go to the library except for this long holiday stretch. Usually it is just 9 hrs Friday and 9 hrs Saturday I must find somewhere to climb in a sleeping bag. Of course rain or snow and wind complicates this. The homeless have it far from easy and a great deal of them would work if given the opportunity. My mom said to me I never want to see my kids homeless for any long stretch at all. I have been homeless since 2007 with the exception of about 2 yrs in a car. I dealt pills for awhile to try and keep my own place in Florida but knew that would only lead to prison, plus it got too expensive to keep going with that. I had 4 cars, plenty of cash and wanted for nothing for awhile so I have seen both sides of wealthy and poor. This is why I can factually cover these topics fairly. In Florida though most of us after filling out 300 applications said F it, and from the moment we became higher pills used just to stay normal we switched from greed ,to I just want to stay high and be a normal member of society. I chose these images because I have been in these two exact positions, especially the first photo far more often than the second. If nobody gives me money I give up very quickly, because I’m use to being dead broke all the time. In the past I bought all the shit I ever wanted. That made it easier to say I don’t need the best phone because I’ve had it, they haven’t changed much and like cars something better comes out next year. Greedy name brand wardrobes mean nothing to me anymore. I still like quality but less is more. When your homeless it’s just more shit to lose or have stolen. The only things that can change me from not wanting financial help or charity are extreme cold or an addiction such as pain pills. A couple teachers and their has been more than one, was concerned for me and the coming storm. One sent me a link, I emailed the top two people on the shelter website with the details of my situation. I didn’t expect a reply as usual but felt I should at least try for two reasons. One different people and a different city even though Phoenix and Tucson made the same hollow promises we will find you temporary housing. The teachers need to know most shelters are an act or non profits with cushy salaries, gaming the system and siphoning off funds. They have it good for the moment and foreseeable future and again it is not their problem. The inequality of not only income but net-worth is the greatest its ever been. I would vote Elizabeth Warren if I thought she’d really fix this like she says, even Chang would be fine with me. Bloomberg who makes Trump look poor I believe can see that if he doesn’t fix this even the rich will be screwed soon as we would riot like Hong Kong. So what is the answer to the new poor majority in America and alarming homeless levels? Trump thinks it starts with cementing America stay #1 compared to China and the rest of the world. Others look at all the crazy tweets and discust he can really put people off with. If other countries and leaders cheat though we have to cheat also to stay ahead or we risk being made 2nd or third in our lifetime. Dope is flooding in and if we can’t at least stop some of it, the world won’t either, just as with Unites States responding to natural disasters. If we stop rescues and aid so will the rest of the world. I believe the twenty something students of today are the smartest we have had yet, but many do not understand how bad it can really get or how quickly it can get there.
Graves, R. (2019) Actual homeless accounts with specific unfair reflections
Unpublished manuscript, Coconino Community College