Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Dispatches from Houston

FEMA tag, property has to wear.
Chattel Slavery relic?

I spoke to Jonathan Chartian this morning. Released Dec. 14, 2016, he is confined to his home when not at work, his job suspended since Hurricane Harvey.  He is really concerned about the excessive show of police and military presence, which is not protecting the rights of citizens, rather complicating an already volatile situation between black and brown people and law enforcement.

Between 12 midnight and 5 a.m. everyone who is not traveling to or from work has the potential for arrest. And even those with reason to be traveling, are accosted by police who are ticketing residents, like Chartian’s “uncle who was pulled over—and asked where he was going.” After a litany of questions, he was ticketed for running a stop sign. A neighbor was also pulled over for as he returned from Ft. Worth.  Chartian said “People are losing money. If there is a 12 hour job, the shifts are breaking down early.”

Police have converged on Houston from as far away as California, yet a black child was kidnapped and raped by white men for five hours this weekend.  One wonders who are all these armed men and women supposed to be protecting.  Chartian says that what is not shown on the news are the armed white racists who pose a threat to black citizens. Elders in the community are trying to keep the black youth calm, so that a war is prevented, a war black people will lose given the fact that they are certainly out gunned.

“The looting is over with,” Chartian says, “why would anyone break into one of the flooded homes? Trader Truth – the rapper’s house still under water. He said he saw an alligator on his porch, [so] he is spending his time helping donate.”

Returning citizen, eldest child, father and husband says his 13 year old daughter is worried by all the armed militia and doesn’t understand their presence. He says businesses are closing early so their employees can get home. “No fast food after 7 p.m.” He also said empty grocery store shelves are gradually getting full again, but banks will not let clients have more than $200 at a time and ATMs are of service. “People have to budget their cash, because even if it is in their account, they cannot access it.”

“It’s a scary feeling.  No ATM money. We have to use money orders. Can’t find too much cash. Bank won’t cash checks.  We have to hold back on our rent.”

People in shelters in cities and smaller counties not affected by Harvey are also in a bind. If they take 
off the identification bracelet, they forfeit FEMA benefits. Chartian’s brother is in a shelter in Austin. “He has to abide by all rules. He lost everything. [More often than not, if a person is in a shelter, he or she] is going back.” 

“My mom lost everything, her apartment and car. She called us at 12 and my brother rescued her and took her to our sister’s house, so she is not eligible for assistance, even though her apartment is beyond repair. People who went to shelter get aide first. Even though his sister documented everything there is no funding to help her mother find another place.

There is a rumor Chartian says that Houston is not going to get the type of monetary aide requested until sometime next year. Some of his friends told him that they dropped donations off at a larger shelters, but were told not to bring anymore donations there. “They are trying to get people out of the shelters. It’s bad. They are giving people flu shots and tetanus
 shots if they were in the water.”

“Right now the death toll is at about 60+. The dive teams can’t go into some of the homes which are still underwater.  Some people chose to stay in their residences.  Addicks Reservoir [overflowed for the first time in history August 28.] Barker Dam was still cresting, so many residents there road out the storm; however, now they are turning the lights (releasing the pressure on the dam) [causing flooding].”

The presence of toxic and environmental hazards in residential communities are also of concern to Chartian, who recently became aware of a paint thinner facility not far from his home. There don’t seem to be any zoning laws or community input regarding the kinds of industries that can set up shop regardless of the danger to human life.

A member of the Self-Defense Family and Mandingo Warriors. “These groups fought for better treatment for our people behind bars [in Texas].” He said. “Living arrangements and better food were outcomes. Even though the Texas prison system don’t pay us for work, we have a great educated system.”

“We had to fight for these systems. There was segregation in prison. Lots of bloodshed. Coming home was a big accomplishment for me after serving 18 years, Dec. 14, 2016.”  He is in school studying for a barber’s license with plans to open a shop. His wife, TaRosalyn Reed, has a business, La'Roz Accessories, already making handbags.

The area where he lives in Harris County was not flooded, however, those with mansions near the reservoir are being flooded by the slow release of water. “A lot of areas are not going to be rebuilt.” He said.  Some areas of Houston have been “underwater for two weeks. So many people are displaced in areas like Southside Southeast Houston, Huntsville, Kingwood area, along the Interstate, in Rose Sharon – a river that runs through there, Liberty County.”

“Beaumont and Port Arthur are also flooded. There is no water.” He says his uncle took a big truck and went to rescue his niece who was stranded at a college there.

Earlier in the crisis parents were stuck without “milk, water, pampers.” One woman broke into a church for shelter. She and others rescued so many people she was seen as a hero, but she was willing to take the rap for breaking and entering if charges were pressed.

“The hurricane and flooding is taking a toll on the people.” Chartian said. He said the municipality is “preparing us for a 15 day black out.”


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