Sometimes I think we forget the country in which we live.
A group of Americans once wrote:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That is the part we all know. But the next part is crucial:
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
If nothing else, we are a country based on the principles of freedom and liberty. All other countries have looked to us in awe and admiration for our bold American ideals.
To that end, we, as Americans, have fought endlessly to push back against tyranny and oppressive government rule.
As patriots, we are not only encouraged to stand up for the oppressed and unrepresented. It is our obligation to God and Country to do so. We cannot somehow rationalize and accept the act of human oppression and subjugation. That must never be an acceptable American trait. Never can we allow ourselves to bend so low as to let our own rot forgotten on our streets.
We cannot allow ourselves to become numb and blind to the Americans among us who are starving, alone and left stranded on the sides of our streets and under our bridges. The young, the old, all races, all genders, people from all classes. No one is immune to the cruelty of abandonment that has somehow become an acceptable American way of life.
This sin of omission, of doing nothing, must end in America now.
We, the homeless and homeless supporters of Akron, Ohio in the United States of America stand proudly by our right to live and let live quietly on private property. We accept all responsibility to live by the laws of the land and to allow our neighbors to enjoy their quiet right to life.
But simply not having to look at us cannot be an acceptable right of other Americans. Because we are poor and cannot afford traditional housing, that does not make us less than others. You may judge us as living low and in an undignified way. I presume you would have said the same about the Native Americans who came before us and lived in similar tent structures. It must never become an acceptable form of government where the extremely poor must disappear from the sight of other Americans because it somehow makes them feel uneasy.
While the American Constitution makes no guarantee that the government will care for our every need, it does guarantee our American Bill of Rights. These fundamental American Rights provide certain guarantees of personal freedoms and clear limitations of government power.
If there was ever something a founding father would clearly stand for it would be the right of an American citizen to care for fellow Americans that are most in need. On private land. With private funds.
There is no conceivable scenario based on our location and our effectiveness in the last two years where it would be justified to force us to stop caring for and sheltering the homeless of America.
We stand on the right side of history, justice, righteousness and God. Those against us stand on the other side with bureaucracy as their only supporter. Our mission of sheltering the homeless on private land is as American as baseball, apple pie and personal freedom.
We are not a group of people that will go quietly into the night.
We are a group of people that believe this is a fight worth fighting for. We are fighting for justice and the American Way of Life.
We will not quit. We will not stop. This isn’t some passing 15 minutes of fame. This is a fight for human life.
Living on the streets of America as a homeless person is the most brutal and terrifying form of existence in America. It does not have to exist. Further, it must not be the default form of existence as we all navel-gaze wondering what to do next. We must act now.
Our demands are simple and direct: Just let us continue with our work sheltering the most difficult to house homeless people on our private land.
We will work tirelessly with you to create an environment that you find more comforting. We too want progress in our community. We would love tiny homes. We would love to provide electricity to those we shelter.
We now have 2 showers and multiple indoor toilets. We have laundry. We have food. We have clothing. We have computers. And now we are beginning to engage the homeless people we work with on business ideas like bicycle repair and t-shirt screen printing, just to name a few.
Allow us to continue our work. We want to work with you. We want you to be the heroes of the day. We want Akron to be known as the city that taught America how to properly work with homeless Americans just as we did with alcoholics.
This is the outcome we want.
But while we are expecting the best we are planning for the worst.
Right now, Priests, Rabbis and Ministers are gathering to plan non-violent civil disobedience protests if you come for us and force us off our land.
Right now, homeless people are meeting among themselves to form protest camps.
While I can assure you that any protest I lead will be peaceful and non-violent I can also assure you that we will be heard and we will stand for our rights boldly.
There are countless Americans who have come before us that have taught us the powerful ways of non-violent civil disobedience. Right now we are working with activist consultants to plan for the worst.
Please do not shut us down. Please stand with us as we all move forward helping the homeless of our city. We are not looking to have a fight. The best fight is the one never had.
Do the right thing. Look to your morality and your spirituality for guidance. Together we can change the world.