[Hpn] Homeless Convention Organizer Ted Hayes On DNC Protests & LAPD
Wed, 20 Dec 2000 15:45:16 -0800 (PST)
Live from Los Angeles - Chats from the Democratic Convention
FWD ABC News - 15 August 2000
THE COUNTER CONVENTION
A CHAT WITH HOMELESS CONVENTION ORGANIZER TED HAYES
- As the Democratic National Committee convenes this week in Los Angeles
to nominate Al Gore for president, a different sort of convention will be
The Los Angeles National Homeless Convention has invited thousands of
homeless activists from around the country to participate in a
counter-convention designed to bring national attention to issues like
poverty, homelessness and housing.
The convention is the brainchild of organizer Ted Hayes, homeless
advocate and senior director of Dome Village <http://www.domevillage.org/>.
Last night, when a protest outside the Staples Center turned ugly, Hayes
was struck in the chest with a beanbag fired by police. He was taken by
ambulance to nearby California Hospital Medical Center, where he was
What role do protests and alternative conventions play in the
political process? How can they achieve their goal of raising awareness and
compassion without their cause being undermined by violence?
Ted Hayes, homeless advocate and senior director of Dome Village,
joined us today in a chat.
Moderator at 8:02pm ET
Welcome, Ted Hayes.
Ted Hayes at 8:03pm ET
I would like to state that the National Homeless Convention is not a
protest, but it is a city-sanctioned official convention. It's a
demonstration of solutions. That's what the National Homeless Convention
Moderator at 8:03pm ET
You were hospitalized last night after being present when a protest turned
violent. What exactly happened?
Ted Hayes at 8:03pm ET
I'm not sure where it all started, but I do know that I was shot by law
enforcement in the chest. I was the first to be shot, and then shortly
after that, other people were also shot and hit with plastic bullets and
pellets and so forth.
Moderator at 8:04pm ET
What's your impression of the way the police handled the situation?
Ted Hayes at 8:07pm ET
The fact that I was shot, and the way things were handled after I was
shot, show some pretty out-of-control attitudes. But it actually started
off with the vandals and the so-called anarchists, whose philosophy and
strategy is to provoke law enforcement to leave their disciplined lines and
react and do things that are ugly, such as use tear gas, rubber bullets,
bean bags, batons, et cetera. That is their intent.
I'm learning from these so-called demonstrators and anarchists that
it is not their intention to correct America, but basically to destroy this
country. They are not getting the message of corporate greed to America,
but rather are taking pleasure in the fact that they are having
demonstrations and that they are shutting down traffic; that they are
getting on the news, and the sound bites, and the photo ops, and the shots
of the police arresting them.
And if you listen, you'll hear them shouting, "Woo woo woo," you
know...you'll never hear exactly what it is that the corporations are doing
to the poor people of the world, to the environment of the earth. But what
you see is this melee, and they are taking great pleasure in that.
Moderator at 8:07pm ET
Were any homeless people among those injured last night?
Ted Hayes at 8:07pm ET
Yes, there was a lady here from Rhode Island, she's a homeless advocate
here...a couple of volunteers...I don't think any of the other homeless
people were hurt.
Moderator at 8:07pm ET
Will you be back on the streets tonight?
Ted Hayes at 8:11pm ET
We will be on the streets tonight again, walking into the convention
center area with our all-night vigil walk. However, we have spoken with the
police authorities today, and we have agreed with them that if there is
melee - bottle-throwing, et cetera - that we will not come into the area
and create more confusion.
However, we can't get many homeless people to come out to these
things. They're frightened, some have warrants, some are too busy looking
for something to eat and a place to sleep.
Where the homeless did get hurt en masse last night was that our
vigil was designed to go into the convention center area and present our
message. We are calling for an executive order from the president to put an
immediate end to the criminalization of the homeless, the street-dwelling
homeless in particular. We call this status-class cleansing, like ethnic
cleansing. We are calling for a national plan to end homelessness in this
country within a 10-year period.
It's a domestic Marshall Plan. For those not familiar with the
Marshall Plan: At the end of WWII, in 1947, the secretary of state, George
Marshall, under Harry Truman, created a plan with the Allies to eradicate
poverty and homelessness and create housing, employment and revitalize that
society of Europe. And they did it within a 10-year period.
Now, that was a lot of effort. We have nowhere near that problem in
America, and if we could do that in Europe for a war, surely we can do that
for our homeless situation.
SB at 8:12pm ET
Why did you pick the site of the Democratic National Convention to have
your counter-convention? It seems to me that the site of the Republican
National Convention in Philadelphia would have been better, since
Republicans are notoriously known for their distaste of expensive social
programs that help the homeless, etc. Aren't you biting the hand that feeds
Ted Hayes at 8:14pm ET
No. Also, what are they feeding us? I am not, we are not singling out the
Democrats. It just so happens, however, that the Democrats chose to have
their party two and a half blocks away from the Dome Village in downtown
L.A., where I live and reside with homeless people. When the spotlight
comes to the Democratic convention, it is our belief that out of the
peripheral vision of the media, they would see Dome Village and the
National Homeless Convention, and would focus in on that.
You have to understand that we are not a protest group. We are not
protesting the Democratic Party. We are a city-sanctioned convention,
seeking solutions. We got hurt last night en masse because the so-called
anarchists and the vandals robbed us of our freedom of speech by their
carrying on. They knew that we were next.
It's like drinking from a pool of clear water, and once you've had
your fill, you muddy it for the next group coming along. That's what
happened to us last night. That hurt our cause, big-time. We have always
been saying, when the elephants fight, the grass gets bruised. We were
bruised by the behavior of that other group.
Moderator at 8:15pm ET
There were concerns that the police might try to "sweep" the homeless away
from the convention area. Have there been any problems with the LAPD?
Ted Hayes at 8:15pm ET
No. Nothing of any major consequence. They were true to their word, as far
as I could tell. There has been some pressure, definitely, but as far as
the encampments go, where the homeless loiter and hang out, we have seen no
such activity. Tipper Gore expressed concern about this expressly to me, as
have mayor and the police. So far, they've been good to their word.
Moderator at 8:16pm ET
Mr. Hayes, how many activists have arrived to participate in the
Ted Hayes at 8:17pm ET
It's mainly local advocates and activists - less than 100. It's not a big
What I have come to realize more poignantly because of this event is
that homeless advocates and activists don't have the bucks to be running
around the country to conventions, especially homeless people. So what we
have here now is a hodgepodge of some local advocates and activists, some
from out of state, some homeless people, and volunteers.
Moderator at 8:17pm ET
Does your convention have a platform similar to the GOP and the DNC?
Ted Hayes at 8:20pm ET
No. Our number one candidate, so to speak, for the White House is our
National Homeless Plan. We nickname it Homie Homeless. What we're doing
here is building strategies as our platform planks to get President Clinton
to acknowledge our requests and demands and enact an executive order. So we
don't have, like, the party floor, debates, the caucuses - it is nothing
like that at all.
This is basically people coming together around that one basic idea,
and pushing for the executive order. We discuss all the elements of
homelessness - veterans (our convention is dedicated to veterans), women
with children, families, men with children, the mentally ill, the
drug-addicted, the disabled. Whatever homeless issue you can think of, we
covered it in our national plan.
Moderator at 8:20pm ET
Will help for the homeless come from the major parties, or will help come
from a third party?
Ted Hayes at 8:22pm ET
I don't have confidence in the third party, either - the Greens or the
Reforms. When you look at their platforms, there's hardly any mention of
homelessness. Only of late did Ralph Nader even mention the word
homelessness. Homelessness is off the scale of all the political parties -
in fact, it's even off the scale of the so-called protestors and
demonstrators as well.
This is why our movement is so militant about our position, because
nobody seems to care. I have to say, however, that the media has been doing
a fairly good job of contacting and reaching us, and not only that, but
putting out our message. People throughout America are actually hearing
this idea of a national plan to stop criminalizing the homeless, which is a
threat to the Constitution and all our freedoms.
R. W. Mann at 8:22pm ET
Has life for homeless people improved under Bill Clinton? If so, how?
Ted Hayes at 8:24pm ET
Certain aspects of homelessness have improved, yes. But the vast majority
of homelessness has gotten worse, in numbers and in complexities, because
people are remaining homeless longer, and the longer a person remains
homeless, the farther away from the mainstream they get.
This president crows about low unemployment, but the reason for the
low unemployment is that most people on our level have given up looking for
work and going to the unemployment office. Therefore, those statistics do
not show. I'll tell you where they are showing up: in the homeless ranks,
in our skid rows and so forth, in prisons, in cemeteries.
We say, for example, free Mumia. We say innocent people on death row
are dying, and black men are disproportionately represented on death row.
However, there are more people dying on skid row than on death row.
Moderator at 8:25pm ET
Homelessness is not a new problem, but why is America still unable to
provide housing for all its citizens?
Ted Hayes at 8:27pm ET
Homelessness is not a housing issue. Homelessness is a vagrancy of the
soul and of the mind, in that ever since the world has been, there have
been homeless peoples. These are peoples who have been pushed outside of
society's norms, into various dimensions or areas of degradation. They've
always believed that anyone who fails is not worthy of respect. Thereby,
they are insulated from the realities and cannot find realistic
alternatives to the problem.
So it's what's going on in America. It's just simply, the rich are
getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the middle class are
getting transformed into tax slaves, paying taxes for the rich corporations
and for the poor and the homeless, the bureaucracy, the military, even
However, I believe, especially given America's history, if the
American people knew how to participate in correcting this crisis without
sinking themselves, they would do it. That is why we have the National
Homeless Convention, and the call for a national homeless plan, because we
believe that if the American public could be shown what to do, they would
do it. I have hope.
Moderator at 8:28pm ET
Ted, what do you hope this convention will achieve this week?
Ted Hayes at 8:29pm ET
We hope that we will move even closer to getting this president, Bill
Clinton, to enact an executive order to stop the criminalization process
and set forward the idea for a national plan. Second, we hope that your
readers and other people - particularly the middle class and young people -
will hear us and act upon what you hear when you're educated by us.
Thirdly, we hope that the international community and the poor around
the world will learn that we exist, and will have hope until the day that
we eradicate the travesties that are involved in poverty, globally.
Moderator at 8:30pm ET
For a complete list of convention chats and transcripts click here now.
you for joining us.
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SEE ALSO LA Independent Media Center articles on Ted Hayes:
LA Weekly also carried a related article:
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