Sad situation to witness today over at the High Street/Home Depot Homeless Encampment.
Here’s the backstory: For the past couple of weeks the Orange Man in the White House along with Fox News has been pushing a campaign where they demonize the houseless. Viewers have been encouraged to “clean up the streets” and take action.
So a notorious local landlord named Gene Gorelik showed up at High Street, wearing a “Make Oakland Great Again” hat. This is a man who was successfully sued by the city of Oakland for evicting a senior; he started doing construction while the man was still living in the house.
He rented a paint riser and brought several large inflatable American flag-clad bald eagles. He also rented a van with a huge sign offering the houseless folks $2,000 a person if they would agree to leave the encampment by 8pm.
Here’s the catch: If one person stays nobody gets the money. Basically he is trying to play people off each other. Here’s why that’s important.
This guy Gorelik, instead of gathering up fellow Trump supporters who live outside of Oakland, hired day laborers and made them wear Minion hats from the cartoon. He paid them to come over to the homeless encampment to blow up the floats and help get rid of the homeless folks. He also said he was gonna toss money from the paint riser in exchange for people leaving the encampment.
So you have two vulnerable populations, day laborers, many of whom are undocumented, being pitted against Black and Brown homeless folks.
The day laborers marched over to the encampment and were greeted by homeless folks and advocates who explained what was going on and what they were hired for. Most of them upon learning what’s what immediately left. About eight stayed, including a brother who remained steadfast. He said he’s about making money and went extra hard for the landlord by holding and waving the American flag.
A homeless elder by the name of Elizabeth who just turned 66 went over to the remaining day laborers and told them that we have a president who is trying to deport them and their loved ones and the guy who hired them is a supporter of those policies.
In tears she told them that she sympathizes with the father and daughter who drowned and asks why they would not show similar empathy. Several more left. She talked to the brother, and he laughed and said he’s gonna get paid. She told him not all money is good money.
He told her he don’t care, he’s gonna get paid.
Meanwhile a large crowd gathered holding signs. Gorelik got on the paint riser and let off the siren on his bullhorn. He said he will pay $1,000 dollars to a homeless organization if 30 people will sign his petition.
Nobody signed it, and the growing crowd shouted him down.
The remaining day laborers stayed hidden behind the truck. The brother walked around trying to get it signed. A homeless woman knocked it out his hand and told him he should be ashamed and shouted for nobody to sign it. He told her she better not touch his clipboard.
Gene Gorelik grew visibly frustrated.
First, he was vastly outnumbered and second, none of American Flag bald eagles stayed inflated. And each time he spoke he was drowned out.
Somebody called him a racist and he shouted back “I’m Jewish and I love everybody.”
Someone asked about the money he was gonna toss from the paint riser. He said he didn’t have it, but he was good for it. He was eventually escorted away by the Oakland police.