by Sloan Bashinsky…….
During this past Tuesday night’s city commission meeting, City Attorney Shawn Smith advised the mayor and city commissioners that the U.S. Department of Justice had determined there was no prosecutable offense in the Charles Eimers death in police custody case, which the blue paper broke and continued vigorously investigating and reporting through and past the city settling, on advice of defense counsel, with Eimer’s estate for $900,000, which was $100,000 under the city’s insurance policy limits.
Arnaud Girard’s first of many “cartoons” about the Eimers case:
Charles Eimers drove from Ohio to Key West in his PT cruiser, to see if he wanted to live here. He brought along a good many personal belongings. The police officer who made the traffic stop noted Eimers appeared to be living in his vehicle. Thus, he was homeless. Withing maybe 15 minutes, Eimers was dead. Face down on a beach, with sand in his mouth, nose and eyes, under several KWPD officers. One of whom, Gary Lee Lovette, was caught on his taser video recorder boasting about coming down on Eimers like a fucking bomb and they killed him. Then began the cover up, while the blue paper used bystanders’ videos of the capture, which later surfaced, to make the police officers into bald-faced liars.
Forget not, right off the bat, Eimers was profiled as being homeless. If the officer had thought Eimers was a visiting tourist, or a local, it would have gone very differently.
In someone similar regard, the day before yesterday, one of what I affectionately call my vicious van dweller criminal amigos (snowbirds down here for the winter) posted something endearing on Facebook. The fellow is disabled, has a handicap sticker on his VW van, which is his home. He was told by a deputy sheriff and by a Key West cop that he could not park his van in a handicap parking space at Higgs Beach, because he was “camping”. So he, and lots of other vicious van dweller criminal friends of mine, started hanging out at beautiful Fort Zachary Taylor State Park during the day, where they were welcome. Here’s what he put on Facebook, to which he got close to 90 “likes” and 50 comments from his friends:
“The Florida Key’s; a place where I’ve spent the last seven years of cold months living like a King and a Bum at the same time. A magical encounter with like minded nit wits, numb skulls, and knuckle heads who have seen fit to provide an informal education of humorously light hearted and adventurous ways of alternative living. I have compiled enough material in the way of stories, characters, and fodder for several novels over the times spent just coming here. All I need now is some inspiration, knowledge, and perseverance to get it word smithed into a tale that encapsulates the experiences in a way that allows the times, characters, and common thread of these experiences to be best represented. For me to translate all of these things into writing in a way that best describes the encounter of this bygone era is going to be a monumental task for me. If for no other reason than to have had these experiences and encounters with the friends and acquaintances I have made along the way I am thankful for that alone. Some fond memories and best of life lessons were made here and I will miss the tropical madness this place has provided. At another juncture in life I leave out of here today looking forward to the uncertain experiences the future holds with the hopes of returning some day. For all of you who have come to know me over these past years I thank you for your patience and contributions of madness to these past times.”
I replied into that Facebook thread:
“Fair winds and clear skyes, Joe – great seeing and talking with you again this year, mostly at Fort Zach, since the local elected officials and their police stopped letting people who live in their homes on wheels hang out days at Higgs Beach – what’s the world coming to? A man’s castle is not his castle, unless a city commission says it is!”
Pretty discordant city policy, stood next to the city’s official philosophy, “We are all created equal members of One Human Family”. In fact, due to the city’s acute affordable housing crisis, there probably are 100 homes on wheels, parking on city streets, in which LOCAL people sleep at night – illegally.
On the city’s new city cigarette butt litter ordinance, which I had suspected would be used by the city government and its police to target homeless people, Michael Shields wrote into a Facebook thread yesterday, in which I was tagged:
“Overwhelmingly, people, smokers and non-smokers support this! Enforcement will indeed be the challenge and requires advocates keep their support strong so the City (code enforcement and police, alike) knows the public considers this a positive measure.”
I wrote into the Facebook thread:
“I attended all 3 city commission meetings, the last one this past Tuesday, during which this new ordinance was on the commission printed agenda. My sense was the elected officials were not very excited about this ordinance being vigorously enforced. Commissioners Payne and Lopez said this past Tuesday night that they voted in favor very reluctantly. Payne wanted the fine reduced to $10, because he doubted anyone would pay the $100 fine. Lopez said he use to be a smoker, so … There was talkTuesday night of the first offense only being a warning, not a fine, which might have been a signal to the police chief sitting in the back of the meeting chamber, to do it that way. At each of the three commission meetings, i asked, pointedly, is this a real ordinance, or is it for show? Even as I said I had pushed for something like this for years, and I hoped the ordinance would be vigorously enforced across the board, it would generate a lot of revenue for the city. However, I asked, who will enforce the ordinance? Code enforcement. City police? And if someone was fined, and did not pay the fine, could that person be arrested and jailed? Only this past Tuesday night did it seem the police chief was told his officers would also enforce the ordinance, along with code enforcement – but does code enforcement have people patrolling city streets even now, looking for litterbugs, for which there already are state, county and city laws not being enforced? It seemed like pulling eye teeth this past Tuesday night, to get anyone on the dais to say the ordinance will not just be enforced against homeless people, like the open container ordinance is enforced. I kept pushing,and finally Mayor Cates said, of course the ordinance will not be enforced only against homeless people. City Attorney Shawn Smith said people ticketed with violating the ordinance could not be arrested and jailed for not paying the fine. During the prior city commission meeting, Commissioner Sam Kaufman had assured me the ordinance would not be enforced only against homeless people, although I had asked each commissioner to make that assurance – Mayor Cates was not present due to illness. This pastTuesday, Commissioner Wardlow said he agreed with me, the ordinance should be enforced by city police. He said new cars today don’t have ashtrays and motorists flip cigarette butts out the window ongoing. Pedestrians do the same. All over Key West. During the two prior commission meetings, I suggested the city offer homeless people jobs, paying a living wage, to be litter cops, enforcing both the litter laws and the new cigarette butt ordinance. Dress them up like pirates, give them fake swords, daggers, pistols. Patrolling on foot high-pedestrian traffic areas, uttering pirate oaths at litterbugs, giving them a chance to pick up what they dropped, and if they don’t pick it up, threatening them with pirate remedies – being stabbed, shot, made to walk the plank, be keel-hauled; and if that doesn’t get them to do right, then whip out a citation pad and write them a fine and hand it to them. Imagine, I said, the publicity that would create for Key West in America and internationally. Imagine our visitors wanting to see our pirate litter cops in action. I’ve been promoting that since I ran for mayor in 2007. Back then, a nationally syndicated live radio show in NY City called and interviewed me about it. The DJ loved the idea. Other radio stations in America then called and interviewed me, they loved the idea. But the Key West city commission wasn’t interested back then, nor since, so far.”
I suppose it would have gone over the top for me to have said at the city commission meeting, or to have written into that Facebook thread, that right after I arrived in Key West in 2000, the angels who run me told me the lungs are the spirit organs for feeling, and people who smoke cigarettes regularly do not know how they really feel about anything. I myself never smoked a cigarette, and never wanted to smoke one, due to my mother smoking 2 packs of Pall Mall’s a day, until she died of cancer at age 45.
Yesterday morning in a city park, a Roman Catholic woman, who feeds the homeless a few days each week, performed a foot-washing ceremony while she fed them. When she washed my feet, I said, you know, Mary Magdalene washed Jesus’ feet before he washed his disciples’ feet; maybe he learned that from her? When I was on the British Virgin Island Tortola, Good Friday, 1996, I went into the Anglican Church in Old Town on Good Friday, and the black Anglican priest washed the entire congregation’s feet. Then, on Easter, he started his homily with a recount of when Jesus spoke to the three women outside the tomb, and he told Magdalene to go to the men disciples and tell them she had seen him and he would soon be with them. The priest looked at his congregation, said, “If that was not the ordination of a female minister of the Gospel, then what was it?”
After the foot-washing ceremony, in which my lady Kari washed some homeless people’s feet, she asked me how I go about the part of the Lord’s Prayer, “and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”? I said, well, I don’t go about it that way. I just get over what people do bad to me, I can’t explain how, and I spend a good bit of time looking at what I did wrong, which isn’t much fun, but it cools me off when I’m mad at someone else. That night in dreams, I was shown to revisit that, and I awoke and spent maybe a hour in semi-trance, as different scenarios past and present in my life came before me, and I basically moved in each scenario to the place of feeling the other people involved were doing their best, given who they were and what they had to work with, about like me, in that regard, but they had not had the ongoing instruction and correcting from angels I have had, and still have.
I suppose it would have gone over the top for me to tell the Roman Catholic woman washing my feet, if Magdalene washed the homeless man Jesus’ feet with her own hair and tears, and anointed his feet with precious ointment I imagine she scarce could afford, what to you imagine she washed and anointed him with when they were in private? And why do you suppose Jesus sent her, and not his mother or the other woman at the tomb, to tell the other disciples she had seen him and he would be with them soon? Was it because Magdalene was his wife? And who do you suppose authored the anonymous Letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament, about the Melchizedek priesthood, in which Jesus is high priest, and the grave peril of turning away from that calling? The angels told me it was Mary Magdalene who wrote Hebrews, and she did not put her name on it because it was known back then, if a woman’s name was on it, as scribe, no man would ever read it. And, maybe some or all of that is why I never heard the Letter to the Hebrews and the Melchizedek priesthood preached in any Christian church I ever attended. Or that Jesus was homeless, and he told his disciples, as they did for the least of those around them, they did also to him.
At Craig Cates’ victory party back in 2009, about a hour after he won his first mayor’s race, he thanked me for getting him elected without a runoff. I had been saying at candidate forums, if you don’t vote for me, then vote for Craig – the other two mayor candidates were incumbent mayor Morgan McPherson and Mike Mongo. After thanking me, Craig asked if I would be on his mayor’s homeless advisory committee, because I knew so much about homeless people? I said, sure. Since then, I have somehow managed to show up here and there, shooting off my big mouth about homeless stuff, not always pleasing many people, or anyone.
See you around,