Daniel Staples

Daniel Staples

Daniel StaplesDaniel is a collective member of the Indypendent Reader.  His interests include technology, feminism, sexuality, economics, and music.  Daniel has a Master's degree in Women's and Gender Studies from Towson University, and develops mesh network technology at the Open Technology Institute.  He maintains the Indyreader website.

Reach him by e-mail at dan.indyreader[at]riseup.net, or follow him on twitter @0xDanarky.

Contributions:

Indyreader member Dan Staples presenting at the Mobilizing and Organizing From Below Conference in Baltimore in 2012. Photo by: Casey McKeel.

I first started noticing the Indypendent Reader papers at local cafés and businesses around the time that the State of the Media issue was out. I was always impressed by the topics and perspectives presented in the issues, as well as the professional look of the paper itself. It was certainly not the kind of thrown-together aesthetic I saw in many of the local political zines I was used to. The articles were interesting, critical, and presented a side of Baltimore you never saw in the mainstream press.

President Barack Obama and his family at 2009 inaugeration. Photo by: EPA

Today, January 21, 2013, President Barack Obama will be publicly sworn in for his second term as the 44th President of the United States. For many, the election of President Obama signified a break with the past, a new era of "Hope" and "Change". Although Obama promised us a lot in the lead-up to his election, his appeal to liberals and progressives came from much more than his policies and campaign promises.

The question of strategy - how we might win in the near and long term as we struggle against domination, exploitation, and oppression - is pressing. Together, we explore how to build movements in the world as it is - engaging with where and how people are struggling - while cultivating strategies toward the world that we want.

National Security Agency Headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. Source: NSA

The surveillance of peaceful activists by US intelligence agencies and security forces is nothing new. From the FBI's surveillance of Martin Luther King, Jr., and military spying on Vietnam anti-war protest groups, to Maryland State Police surveillance of Baltimore anti-death penalty and peace groups four years ago, one consistency is the legal impunity with which state surveillance is done, regardless of the practices' legality.

Baltimore City Logo

Members of the Baltimore City Council held an investigative hearing yesterday regarding allegations of gender discrimination and intimidation at the new City-funded homeless shelter, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Housing and Resource Center (HRC). The hearing comes just ten days after City police forcefully removed over 300 students and advocates from staging an overnight “sleep-out” in front of City Hall to raise awareness about homelessness, despite being allowed to do so in previous years.

Right off the large main lobby of Healthcare for the Homeless in downtown Baltimore, there is a small, tile-floored room with folding tables and plastic stackable chairs. Offering some small respite from the loud TVs and chatter of dozens of people in the main lobby, the room reminds me of a school classroom.

On a hot August morning, I sat down with James Crawford at a table in the apartment building where he lives on North Avenue. I had first called him less than 24 hours before, and he had told me to come see him the next morning at eleven. As we sat alone in a large room full of chairs, tables, and couches, in what I guessed was the lobby of the apartment building, I asked him about his work for Bmore Housing For All (BHFA), an activist organization of currently or formerly homeless people and their allies in which he is an active member.

On Monday October 24th, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland and the Homeless Persons Representation Project (HPRP) sent a letter to Baltimore Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, demanding intervention in the discriminatory and illegal denial of overflow shelter beds to homeless women at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Housing and Resource Center. Currently, only homeless men are provided with additional beds at another location once the 250-bed shelter is full.

On the northwest corner of The Fallsway and Centre Street in downtown Baltimore City, there used to sit an inconspicuous brick warehouse that housed offices for the City's Department of Transportation. Earlier this year, however, a new banner appeared above one of the corrugated metal garage doors that proclaimed, “Future Home of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Housing and Resource Center.” The banner included a computer-generated image of a shiny new building overlooking The Fallsway on an idyllic sunny day. This old warehouse would be transformed into a dedicated year-round 24-hour homeless shelter, meant to replace the old derelict shelter on Guilford Avenue.

Baltimore has never been a model city for addressing urban homelessness. From the old Oasis shelter that was closed shortly after a female client was sexually assaulted, to the city's first year-round 24-hour shelter, dubbed Code Blue, that had conditions described as “shocking for a First World country”, Baltimore's growing homeless population is continually neglected and underserved.

Pages

Trans Homelessness Addressed at Town Hall Meeting
Anti-Corporate Queer Activists Crash Pride Parade
Interviews From Baltimore Pride 2011
Youth Empowerment and Poetry Night Features Diversity of Local Talent
New Shelter Still Lacks Overflow Plan for Women
Homeless in Baltimore, Part 1: Interview with Adam Schneider
ACLU Begins Action Against Baltimore Homeless Services’ Sexism
Homeless in Baltimore, Part 2: Bmore Housing For All
Homeless in Baltimore, Part 3: The Weinberg Housing and Resource Center
City Council Hearing Investigates Allegations of Gender Discrimination at New Shelter
Obama and the Age of Surveillance
Audio: Developing Strategy For Social Transformation with Chris Dixon
Obama's Legacy on the Eve of his Second Term
Why I Got Involved in Indyreader