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Response to Ginger Rutland

Below, is an “Another View” editorial submission to the Sacramento Bee I wrote in response to a dunderheaded editorial written by associate editor Ginger Rutland.  Rutland appears to have as an assignment the writing of Bee eds regarding homeless issues despite the fact that she continually demonstrates that she knows nothing about homeless people and the homeless circumstance in Sacramento and is unwilling to learn anything.  An editorial Rutland wrote last year [to which I submitted an unpublished response] was the biggest heap of twaddle I have ever read – outside of Loaves & Fishes newsletters.


In her editorial in the July 5 edition of the Bee, “Time to plant some cactus at City Hall?” staffer Ginger Rutland, a bit-past-middle-age black woman, finds the remnants of the Occupy Sacramento protest movement alive and well on the square-block property where the two Sacramento City Hall buildings (Old and New) are locked in tender embrace.

She identifies two of the protesters there who cite, fully plausibly, their ongoing link to the protest movement. They seem to be solid citizens – though one, Rutland tells us, has grimy toes. Rutland doesn’t deny that they are engaged in free speech [“This isn’t about free speech,” she writes.], instead she tells us her gripe is all about their camping there and the mess that creates.

Rutland makes several good suggestions to fix the problem. Primary is this: “Capital Park hosts large protests almost weekly,” she tells us, “… protesters there must get permits. They can’t monopolize the space indefinitely, as is happening at City Hall.” Bravo, I say. An accommodation that retains American freedom in all its banner-flapping pride and glory can be had. WTG, Ginger! Let us have the law at Capital Park be the same at City Hall’s one block of soil. Hooray!

But then, suddenly, in the wrap, Rutland rages around uncontrollably, thumping (with no connection to what went before) Sacramento’s homeless community for our supposed miscreant deeds. To underscore the prejudice, here is Rutland’s next-to-last paragraph with the word “black” substituted where she used “homeless”:
“I have long thought that elected officials across the region ought to create black campgrounds – spaces where black people could legally be. But the front lawn at City Hall is not a space anyone would recommend. No private business wants black people camping at its front door. City Hall is where the people's business is conducted. The people of Sacramento deserve better.”
Ms. Rutland: You need to get out more and actually meet a variety of homeless people. Indeed, many are rascals, but most are quite nice and have wonderful qualities, talents, and dispositions. A lot of us know a lot about the Occupy movement and supported it up until it failed to have a Second Act. If you knew us, I am confident you wouldn’t disparage us so. You would understand about our suffering and the search many of us are embarked on to find meaning in our life.

[End of what I submitted]
It needs to be added, that if the fierce prejudice in the Bee's awful editorials about the homeless is to be rectified, it is not just Rutland, but the whole of the Bee editorial board that needs to be jettisoned. In her last paragraph, Rutland tells us of her editorial-board colleagues' joke, told "only partly in jest": "Take up the lawn in front of City Hall entirely. Replace it with a cactus garden. That way, the city could discourage campers, preserve water and rescue a once-serene public place all at the same time."

Ms Rutland, the board you're on is a disgrace, but you are the worst of it, so fully detached from the misery in recent history endured by people of your race that you can laugh at and repeat a joke that proposes to heap more suffering on those who are already suffering. I point out to you, too, that the homeless population is greatly disproportionate to the general population in being black.  The reason for that is largely (if not entirely) due to racism.  Ms. Rutland:  WAKE UP!


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