Friday, July 29, 2016

#BlackLivesMatter: Governor Abbott Announces Police Protection Act

Governor Greg Abbott recently announced his push to support the Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter movements by attempting to strengthen penalties for crimes committed against law enforcement officers and he calls it the Police Protection Act:

At a time when law enforcement officers increasingly come under assault simply because of the job they hold, Texas must send a resolute message that the State will stand by the men and women who serve and protect our communities... - Governor Abbott

Governor Abbott’s Police Protection Act includes the following proposals:

  • Extend hate crime protections to law enforcement officers;
  • Increase criminal penalties for any crime in which the victim is a law enforcement officer, whether or not the crime qualifies as a hate crime;
  • Create a culture of respect for law enforcement by organizing a campaign to educate young Texans on the value law enforcement officers bring to their communities;
"For example, under current law, assault with bodily injury is generally punishable as a Class A misdemeanor, while assault on a public servant, including a law enforcement officer, is a 3rd degree felony. Under Governor Abbott’s proposal, in cases where the assault is on a law enforcement officer, the penalty would increase to a 2nd degree felony."

Of course the corrupt and powerful police unions put their two cents into the mix, which brings up the point that they have too much power. There has to be a way to break their monopoly or powerful lobby with elected officials. Here is what they had to say:

"As a 26-plus year police officer in Houston, I’m extremely encouraged by Governor Greg Abbott’s legislative priority to make the State of Texas a national leader in protecting the lives of law enforcement officers. The attacks on law enforcement in Texas and the rest of our nation are unprecedented. Governor Abbott’s solution is the right approach for Texas law enforcement officers and the people of Texas who support them.

 – Ray Hunt, President, Houston Police Officers Association


"We applaud Governor Abbott for recognizing the importance of protecting law enforcement officers in the state of Texas. False narratives and irresponsible anti-police rhetoric have put our officers in greater danger than ever before. This is an important step toward protecting those who protect the citizens of this great state.

– Kevin Lawrence, Executive Director, Texas Municipal Police Association


The Dallas Police Association applauds Governor Abbott’s bold plan in response to the recent wave of attacks on police officers. Now is the time for our elected leaders across our state and country to do the right thing and join our Governor in his call to better protect police officers.
– Ron Pinkston, President, Dallas Police Association


"The Sheriff's Association of Texas is very pleased to hear our Governor is behind an effort to protect peace officers across our state. Every Texas Sheriff feels this should be a precedent for the leadership in other states to follow, and we support our Governor. We look forward to working with the Governor during the 2017 legislative session to pass these important protections.

– Grimes County Sheriff Donald Sowell, President, The Sheriff's Association of Texas

Here is my take, this is based in racism and is clearly using a tragedy to enforce a policy of policing that already exists. In other words, this policy legalizes police brutality and makes it much easier to attack those of us exercising our constitutional rights to freedom of speech and protest. Our peaceful actions can be deemed an attempted hate crime toward crooked cops who are the ones that commit hate crimes and escape punishment. The fact is that this attempt to include law enforcement as a protected class is moot. The current state laws already provides a remedy, and this act would not actually provide police officers with any greater protection than current laws. What Abbott is doing here, is an attempt to further criminalize our Blackness, by criminalizing our thoughts. Our thoughts and thought processes that are used to call out systems of oppression can be called hate speech. This act would literally designate ALL of our actions and words as a hate crime, leading to unconstitutional application of penalties and unnecessary punishment. We must fight against this effort to further these racist attempts to criminalize Blackness.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Pride Houston, We STILL Have A Problem

Pride Houston, We Have A Problem

Previously on June 29, 2016 I wrote that "An anonymous source presented me with this information and I am now presenting it to you. Today Teresa Carpenter, one of four board members (Frankie Quijano - Pres., Paul Pettie & Jeremy Fain) of Pride Houston sent in her resignation letter (you can read the PDF below) citing issues within the organization as her reason for leaving. It should be noted that the source would not reveal why they sent this story to me and that I hope Teresa finds peace after being subjected to the experience she had. She stated that "There are issues that need to be addressed within this organization that can no longer be swept under the rug as they have been in the past."

The Response

Between 6/29 and 7/1 these were the responses floating on social media from Frankie Quijano:

The official response:

"Message from Pride Houston®
July 1, 2016

This year’s Houston LGBT Pride Celebration® was an incredible celebration of love, acceptance and celebration among nearly 700,000 attendees from around the world. The LGBT community united in solidarity despite the loss of 49 lives in Orlando, Florida and showed up in full force to show that we would no longer live in fear and rise up.

While we are still reveling in the excitement from another exciting Pride Celebration, the organization wanted to address a few concerns/questions from the community and shed light into the organization:


Our financial information, consisting of the 990 form from the IRS, can be viewed on our website here. We are awaiting a response from our tax firm in regards to our most recent documents and will post those as soon as they are received. Due to the holiday weekend, this is currently delayed. We have also hired an external auditor to ensure everything is properly organized before moving into the next fiscal year, which begins September 1, 2016.

Organizational Governance:

We’ve outlined how our organization is governed and you can find it on our website here. There you will find items like our by-laws and board minutes, amongst other information. The organization is committed to keeping this site updated on a monthly basis.

It is within our bylaws to have a three (3) year board term with no, currently stated, limits on the number of terms. We are always anxious for dedicated, passionate volunteers to work with us to make a difference within the community and help us move closer towards our mission to “bring lesbians, gay-men, bisexuals, transgendered individuals and allies together to educate the world on issues important to the LGBT community, commemorate our heritage, celebrate our culture and strive for equality.”

Applications to become a Board of Director for the next board term are available starting today, July 1, through July 31 and open to the public. We strongly encourage volunteers interested in helping to take Pride Houston® to the next level, to apply. You can submit your application here.

Pride Houston® is comprised of a passionate group of volunteers and we welcome anyone who would like to be a part of our mission. The organization will be hosting the first Board meeting of the new fiscal year on Wednesday, Septemeber 13, 2016 which is open to the public.

Pride Houston® is always looking for dedicated volunteers to serve on annual Production Team Committees to help organize, plan and coordinate our events. If you’re interested in serving on an annual committee please email

On the condition of anonymity I received this:

"He has hand picked certain people, 20 in particular, to invite to this meeting. He is hand picking not to validate, but to remain in control of Pride Houston. THE EVENT is marked private so you will not be able to see it ( << that is the event link and you will not be able to open it. IT SHOULD be an open meeting which the community should and could attend but again, Frankie made it invitation only and set it as a private event that no one can see. It is what it is but I do know that 13 years as president is enough!"

"So now you have the entire list:"

"Do you see any diversity? Any African American? maybe one, lol BS!!! These are handpicked people!"

Frankie's FIFTH VOTE:

Did you notice Joey Guerra on the list of invites? According to my source, "he is on the Pride BOD, but he never shows up to the meetings and Frankie has proxy for him."

I even asked if Joey was even interested in remaining on the BOD or if Frankie was using him as a was their answer:

"Joey works for the Houston Press, so they get free advertising and he promotes pride idol and will do pride exchange he is not required like the rest of the BOD to show up to meetings...We all had to be at meetings except Joey Guerra, but as long as Frankie had his proxy he didn't care and this is why Frankie can never be out voted!"

More updates to come as the situation changes, BUT I will leave you with this:

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Houston Activists Combat Kush Epidemic Targeting Homeless Community

Houston Activists Continue Surveying Synthetic Weed Epidemic Targeting Homeless Community

By: Shere Dore

Synthetic marijuana has been a problem over the years in Houston and nationwide. Through mainstream media, the stories are few and far between where it concerns overdoses and serious affects from use of this dangerous “drug” so much that the City of Houston and media didn’t rake real notice to the problem until there were 16 overdoses a week ago at Hermann Park. However, there has been a group of local activists who’ve already been at work, surveying the epidemic, assisting the homeless, gathering information on treatment programs, confronting store locations that sell synthetic weed, calling for medical help when needed, and much more. This group has far more experience with this crisis than city leaders, treatment centers, and local churches.

For the last couple of months, a group of activists from various local groups banded together to fight against this massive problem. “Kush” is the commonly used name however is labeled incorrectly. Kush is a form of real cannabis marijuana and isn’t harmful to anyone who uses it. The name “kush” was adopted by sellers so that it could appeal to users. Some users make the purchase assuming they are buying real marijuana when in reality, they are buying synthetic weed with absolutely no ties to original and real marijuana.


First off, again I want to make it clear that the synthetic weed is not in any form of real marijuana. It is crucial that if an individual is buying marijuana from someone, that they know who they are buying from otherwise they could receive synthetic weed and after 1 – 2 puffs, it can cost a person their life. Synthetic marijuana has various names: K2, Spice, Kush, Climax, and Space Cadet just to name a few. Synthetic weed also has levels of potency. Lower levels of potency start at 6x. It climbs to 10x, 15x, 50x, and 100x. Space Cadet contains the highest potency and most likely is the synthetic marijuana used at the time that 16 individuals overdosed at Houston’s Herman Park on June 23rd. The higher the potency, the more likely one is to have constant seizures, vomit, aggressive behavior, body temperatures rise, irregular heart beat whether it increased or decreases the beats per minute, impaired motor skills, paralysis, coma, and even death. The more frequent chemicals involved in the synthetic marijuana is Raid (roach spray), rubbing alcohol, cat nip, and potpourri incense which is sold in packages similar to what is pictured below. The high itself only lasts 10 – 15 minutes. It only costs $1 to purchase a kush blunt compared to a marijuana blunt which runs $5. Synthetic weed is much cheaper to buy and is easily accessible. We see cases where an individual displays aggressive behavior. In those cases, most likely the kush blunt was laced with meth, which causes their aggression and can put others in danger. Though we are always on guard because of the laced drug, for the most part we generally see individuals on 6x – 10x levels of potency. Most will sleep it off for 20 – 30 minutes then be right back up like nothing happened. Most times the person will not remember what took place while they were high.

ER visits to local hospitals since Sept 2015 drug count: 

Kush 1396
Alcohol 545
Script Drugs 337
Cocaine/Crack 203
Marijuana 126
Opiates 113
Amphetamine 109
Heroin 95
Ecstasy/MDMA 33
Inhalants 19
LSD 12
Ketamine 5


On May 16, 2016, the DEA and HPD seized 9.5 TONS of synthetic marijuana from a drug ring which included a professor from the University of Houston. The DEA arrested 16 people linked to the drug ring which should have crippled the sale of “kush” for a few weeks at least however that isn’t the case. On May 23, 2016 we saw the use of “kush” jump in record numbers. EMT’s/Houston Fire Dept are called all day, every day to assist with individuals who react to “kush”. This takes away from other emergencies taking place in the community. Not to mention it desensitizes EMT workers who have to see this multiple times a day. For example, the evening of June 26, 2016, an older man was seen staggering on Lamar Street in downtown Houston. He managed to get back on the sidewalk then fell onto his side as he began to have seizures. We contacted 911 to obtain medical assistance in the event that this individual could go into cardiac arrest. EMT’s arrived on the scene where one worker, Erica Czyz, was seen using her radio communicator to literally dig into the ribs of this man, yelling at him to wake up. She did not display gentle use of the object as she continued to push her radio harder, digging further into his ribs, once again demanding that he wake up. One worker was overheard laughing and saying “Y’all should take him to Southeast Memorial hospital so that way we won’t have to deal with this problem for a couple of days.” In other words, move kush users further outside the city so that no one is bothered with another user. That is not the answer. We continue to request the faithful diligence and professionalism of our EMT workers/fire fighters which we see so often.

We are currently looking into why synthetic marijuana has hit the streets in mass quantity after Houston Police and the DEA obtained 9.5 tons of synthetic weed back on May 16, 2016. Five weeks ago (specifically 5/23/16) the use of “kush” drastically rose. Synthetic marijuana was seized awfully close to the time the quantity of “kush” in massive doses hit the streets, specifically targeting the homeless community in the downtown area 6 months before Houston hosts the Super Bowl. We continue to ask the question: Who is bringing it downtown in such high quantity?

(For the most part, those who smoke lower levels of potency to kush react in this manner – sitting upright, sleeping off the drug after their 10 – 15 minute high)


On June 8, 2016 it was a hot Wednesday afternoon. A homeless black male (Mike) who I’ve known for a couple of years appeared with his longtime girlfriend, who I know as well. Both had told me how they spent the majority of their day trying to get on the housing list while also trying to look for a place to stay. Both of them were clearly exhausted from the heat and humidity. If you don’t live in Houston then you don’t know that temps get up to the high 90’s in June with humidity levels over 70% most days. There is no dry heat here. You’re guaranteed to sweat and if you’ve been walking around all day, you’re going to be exhausted the moment you sit down to cool off. That is exactly what happened to this couple after walking around Houston throughout the day. Houston Police Officer Pham, badge# 8193, frequents the library plaza/west end of downtown Houston. He is not liked. Why? Because Officer Pham has a history of being aggressive and has every intention of baiting individuals into an argument so that he can arrest them and take them to jail. Several people have claimed that they saw Pham “kick a homeless woman” as she was laying down one afternoon. Outside of his behavior with the homeless, Pham is combative with homeless advocates. He’ll attempt to argue when he realizes he’s being filmed. Pham has forced us to film him because his professionalism is lacking and he’s known to be aggressive in his personal dealings with the homeless community.

On this particular day, Pham along with two reps from the Sobering Center approached Mike who was leaned up on his girlfriend as he sat on a ledge. He was questioned several times whether he was on “kush” or whether he “intoxicated”. Many times he cited that he was neither kushed out or intoxicated. One of the reps asked him 5 times whether he wanted to be medically evaluated. Each of those times Mike said “no”. At this time it’s clear he’s not high nor is he drunk. Anyone with experience, especially in the drug abuse field, could see that Mike was fine. Not every person who is resting is high or drunk. This is when inquiries turn into harassment. I began filming the incident. How many times does a man have to say “no” to get another to leave him alone? Officer Pham asked for his ID which Mike questioned his reasons. Pham refused to give one, just continued to request his ID. Pham began to ask additional questions while the Sobering Center reps are standing near, watching, not saying anything. Mike was clearly upset, feeling his rights were being violated. By that time I advised Mike to not give any consent to searches nor answer anymore questions without an attorney since it was clear Pham had no intention of backing off Mike. Officer Pham pulled out his handcuffs and detained the man immediately after my suggestion. After Mike was placed in the car, he gave his name which came back clear – no warrants. He was free to go after. The very next day the very same man was done the very same way by Officer Pham, this time without the Sobering Center reps. At what point is this considered “helping the homeless” or attempting to combat the kush crisis? Everything that took place on June 8 screamed violation of civil rights. It is not illegal to lay your head on your girlfriends shoulder. In fact, it is not illegal to rest at all. However, Houston officers are using this as leverage to stop and harass homeless that are not intoxicated in any way.

(Officer Pham detains a homeless man after wrongly profiling and harassing the man)

On June 10, 2016 Officer Caster, badge# 8746, profiled a black Muslim male who was sitting on a ledge at the downtown library plaza. She too assumed he was intoxicated. The same reps from the Sobering Center came and assessed the man. like the others, he fell victim to untrained officers. The man was cleared by Caster and free to leave. Moments later, Officer Pham appeared and became combative when he saw that we were filming the incident. That same night at 9:08 p.m., Officer Pham accused three homeless men of jaywalking across the street in the downtown area although the men had the signal to “walk” when the light changed. Officer Pham arrested one of the men when he asked why was it that Pham was harassing him all the time. Pham uttered “I’ll show you” then placed the homeless man under arrest claiming he was jaywalking the street.

On June 10, 2016 at 7:12 p.m., not long after Officer Caster and Officer Pham left the plaza, Officer Hill, badge# 4879 appeared profiling two homeless men. He claimed they looked intoxicated when both men were resting on their arm, waiting for the 8 p.m. food sharing to begin. Had he engaged the two men appropriately, talking to them a couple of minutes, he would have learned that neither were intoxicated or high. Officer Hill demanded their ID’s which each complied. Hill returned their ID’s after the men were cleared (no warrants) then went back to his car and began to take photo’s of us who were standing out there witnessing further violation of a individuals civil rights. It is clear that common sense is lacking with these officers. This cannot be reduced to a lack of training. To demand ones ID for merely sitting down is wrong. To constantly do this to the homeless community because officers are allowed to get away with it downright shows these officers as being bullies. Picking on people who cannot defend themselves.

(Officer Hill profiles two homeless men in downtown Houston)


June 30, 2016 Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner called a press conference to give a plan of action in effort to handle the kush issues. The press conference was held at the Hermann Park pavilion, right where 16 individuals were taken to the ER from an overdose the week prior. Aside from the Mayor, the interim HPD Chief of Police, Metro Police, Pastor Rudy from St John’s Church, Mr. Kincaid from the Sobering Center were just a few who spoke in front of local media and concerned homeless advocates.

Mayor Turner pushes his plan to combat the use of synthetic marijuana on June 30, 2016

Mayor Turner expressed that there is a problem in Houston with “kush”. However, because Turner and others involved in the press conference are not knowledgeable of the details of this epidemic, their plans to combat the crisis leave lots of room for error. Mayor Turner wanted to make it clear that the City of Houston wanted to partner with other medical facilities in effort to get real treatment to those who are addicted to kush. Unfortunately, there are no immediate treatment facilities or programs for kush users at this time. In fact, state funding doesn’t even recognize kush as a drug which requires treatment. The Mayor announced the deployment of 175 Houston police officers, many being pulled from desk jobs and investigators, being placed on the street to assist with the “kush clean up effort”. I specifically asked the interim Chief of Police whether these officers would be trained. I was never given a direct answer. Seeing the officers were being deployed the following day, it is clear these officers are not going to be trained to deal with anyone using kush, including the homeless who will be profiled due to the stereotype. Bottom line: If an officer comes across an individual who is high on kush, the best he/she can do for that person is take them to the Sobering Center which the person will spend the night to sober up then be released the very next day just to go out and do it again. There is no real help right now. Calling 175 cops to the streets who are untrained is a recipe for disaster. One must take a humane approach no matter how frustrating the situation is. Being compassionate to the persons needs is a requirement. If one lacks people skills and holds little empathy for others, they cannot do this job. We cannot assume all homeless are kush users. While the majority of kush users are located in the downtown area, you can see the map below that pin points other kush hot spots around the city, including the suburbs. Lastly: Who is bringing it downtown? Homeless people aren’t transporting massive amounts of synthetic marijuana to the downtown region.

(Left: The red signifies kush hot spots. Right: Green dots indicate how many kush users in that area visited an ER facility. You can see in downtown Houston alone, there were 347 cases since Sept. 2015)

There is a lot of work to be done here. None of us have all the answers however we need to be smart about this epidemic. Addressing the needs of mental disorders, depression, PTSD, and much more is crucial at this point. Whether Houston have the capacity to balance mental health still remains unknown. Until we begin to understand that using drugs of any sorts mainly focuses of embedded mental pain that is being masked by drug or alcohol use, we are going to continue to see drug use rise. Of all the homeless individuals I’ve worked with over the last 5 years, 95% of those I’ve spoken with have some sort of mental issue they are dealing with that has been left untreated and prohibits them from moving forward to get housing or use resources offered to help some of the homeless. The majority of homeless I’ve interviewed over the years do not want to be homeless however one should recognize that a form of PTSD takes place when one is thrusted to the streets to survive day to day, minute by minute because the streets are not always safe. The majority of those smoking kush do it to escape the reality which they call “hell”. We truly have no idea what it is like to be on the streets day after day, trying to survive. Many assume help is there but that is not always the case. For example, if you’re a healthy person between the ages of 25 – 64 with no real mental or physical disabilities, or not a parent with children, nor a military veteran, you can be on a housing list for years. In Houston to be placed on a housing list, one must get a homeless letter stating they are homeless and be on the streets for one year before they go on that housing list. Shelters are not the answer either. Shelters in Houston are deplorable. Aside from bed bug infestations and TB, food is extremely inadequate and the volunteers who staff these shelters lack any real compassion or empathy. When a person is forced to a shelter, their dignity is all one has left however too often many of the volunteers strip that from the person as well. I always challenge others to volunteer at the local city shelters to see for themselves just how bad it really is and why it is that so many would rather live on the streets rather than a shelter. This is going to take a lot of us to stay committed if we want to truly resolve the epidemic. If you want to get involved in assisting the homeless in any way, please contact us at