Anti Wells Fargo Protests

Sorry I haven’t posted a picture or blogged this week, but I’ve been training for my new job and have been getting mangled by allergies.

Today, while I was driving my roommate around on errands, I came across a protest group in front of the Downtown Provo, UT Well Fargo. This interested me since I figured all the fun protest action this week would be up in Salt Lake City during the semi-annual LDS (Mormon) General Conference. The Utah Valley University Revolutionary Students Union protest group of about twenty-five people were protesting Wells Fargo’s investment and loan practices benefiting the commercial-prison system here in Utah and Nation-Wide. In general, I support what they are doing. I think the commercial prison system is ridiculous and second I think there are far too many people incarcerated in the United States all together.

I also love the idea of free speech and debate. Protest is awesome especially when the cause is good.

I only have two criticisms for the protest group:

records-figure2-big1) I spoke to three very nice people and they helped refine and frame the protest argument. One of the points two of them made was that Latinos were the most incarcerated demographic incarcerated in the United States. I conceded to them that might be right for California, but that is not the same nation wide. I tried to tell them that the most incarcerated group per-capita were Blacks. These three guys were adamant about their facts, however. This is fine of course when you are right, but bad when you are wrong.

According to the National Institute of Justice, the largest demographic group per-capita is Black Men ages 20-34 at 1:9 where Latino Men are 1:36 and Latino Women are 1:297. The Center for American Progress states the following about incarceration in the United States:

  1. While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned.
  2. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.
  3. Students of color face harsher punishments in school than their white peers, leading to a higher number of youth of color incarcerated.
  4. According to recent data by the Department of Education, African American students are arrested far more often than their white classmates.
  5. African American youth have higher rates of juvenile incarceration and are more likely to be sentenced to adult prison.
  6. As the number of women incarcerated has increased by 800 percent over the last three decades, women of color have been disproportionately represented.
  7. The war on drugs has been waged primarily in communities of color where people of color are more likely to receive higher offenses.
  8. Once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders.
  9. Voter laws that prohibit people with felony convictions to vote disproportionately impact men of color.
  10. Studies have shown that people of color face disparities in wage trajectory following release from prison.

2) While I absolutely agree with condemnation of the Prison Industrial Complex, I think protesting, in this case, is a waste of time. I think a better utilization of time an energy would have been community activism dealing with the causes of incarceration, like the misguided War on Drugs and discriminatory incarceration practices. Many of the above ten points show areas where community activism would be very effective. Activists can work to change government policies that regulate education, sentencing, community policing, voter rights and employment opportunities for released prisoners.

I did go inside the Wells Fargo and spoke to some of the employees. They were interested in the protest, but for the most part thought the protesters would get more done if they went up to Salt Lake to the main branch or even better to the company headquarters in Sacramento, California. The employees did get a letter from the home office about what to say about the protesters, but I’ve known some of these guys for years since I’ve been doing most of my Wells Fargo banking from this location. The employees were open with their feelings. Three of the tellers were Latinos and their opinion was that the best thing for Latinos to do was to simply not go to jail, get and keep jobs, buy a home and get an education.Personally, I despise Wells Fargo, but I do need a National Bank for when I travel coupled with the local credit union I use.

Still, I am glad, these protesters were out working on issues they think are important. Free speech is one of the greatest benefits we as Americans have. I just wish these guys were better informed (maybe the other protesters were) and I wish they were more interest in community activism instead of direct protest.Please Read:

Randy Wright

(Tombow ABT Brush Pen, no 2. pencil & PS)

The LDS church is expanding its Missionary Training Center here in Provo. Most of the people I know are pretty excited about it and most say it’s about time. The LDS church decided to have a public hearing to get public input. In Utah, this is a superfluous effort. As long a building project adheres to code, the property owner is free to do what they will. The LDS church does not have to ask anything of the public and often does not. They did not with their new downtown Provo City Center Temple or the new mega-complex on 9th east (its actually not that big).

However, one of the supervisors at CUE (where I’m still substitute teaching), used Mr. Wright’s editorial in the Daily Herald to show that even the newspaper thinks the LDS church oppresses minorities in the community. I read the article and only saw poorly written intolerance. Mr. Wright is doing his job as an editorial writer (being a professional, petulant boobie–I’m purely amateur), but his implication that the LDS church doesn’t really care what the local residents think is ridiculous. Many of the upper-eschelons of the LDS church live here in Provo and love it just as much as I do.

I think Mr. Wright is doing nothing more than trying to stir a bubbling pot of anti-mormon discontent here in Utah Valley. Many of my fellow mormons are just as intolerant as Mr. Wright and I can generally see where my friends who are not LDS are coming from when they complain about mormon ignorance. I hate mo-clones with a passion. They are as guilty of intolerant hatred as Mr. Zimmerman in Florida and presidential candidate Rick Santorum (the tea party is alive and well in Provo even when most tea-partiers across the country hate mormons because their preachers tell them to). Mo-clonism is often represented on news-magazine covers and in broadway plays (the cliche mormon image Mitt Romney fits so well). Fortunately, mo-clones are a severe, though visible and vocal, minority in the LDS church.

I hope I am wrong about Mr. Wright. I do think the LDS church is interested in the opinions of Provo residents. If the LDS church did not care, then the church would skip these superfluous and legally unnecessary, public hearings.

Raspberries

(photo manipulation)

I went to San Diego this weekend because the night before my son, Andy, got married to Crystal, my wonderful daughter-in-law, my twenty-two year old Nissan pickup died parked twenty feet from the Oceanside, CA beach. The timing belt broke.

My son drove us around the next day before and after the wedding and reception. A couple of days latter, I rented a car and drove home. The repair bill for the truck was $950. A week after the wedding, the truck was repaired and Andy drove it to work at the San Diego Marriott and back to Fallbrook where Crystal and Andy lived with her parents. The only problem was that I did not have wheels here in Provo.

Fortunately, Andy and Crystal were planning to move here. They wanted to take a year between the wedding and starting school at the Culinary Institute of America in Hydepark, NY. He has a job here as a Pastry Chef. They are staying with my parents until they can find an apartment in either Provo or Orem. Crystal is thinking about going to school either at BYU or UVU for Summer and Fall semesters.

So, Friday at 5:30pm I drive off in another rental and arrive in San Diego eleven hours later. I slept for five hours thinking I would be able to spend the day with the kids and drive back on Sunday. I wanted to go to the beach since I wasn’t able to spend a lot of time there without a truck back in December. The only problem is that Andy and Crystal wanted out of California and her parents house as soon as possible.

So we hit the road. Five minutes after driving off, the hose from the radiator broke off. I fixed it. Crystal got lost on the way to Hertz to drop off the rental. I found her and treated her to soda and french-fries. Twenty minutes on I-15, the tread on the driver-side rear-tire peeled off. I bought a new tire at the Wal-Mart next to the offramp in Lake Elsinore, CA. After a four hour delay, we were finally off for good. It was as if California was trying to keep us.

Doing the hills in Southern California was hard for the truck. Its carburetor is adjusted for Utah’s high altitude, so it was bleeding power and would never get over 45 miles per hour. The high winds and half ton of house-hold goods drug on the truck and it took two hours to get past San Bernadino, but once we got into the higher altitude of Victorville, the truck took off. We made great time only having problems with the steepest grades.

Here are the interesting bits from my trip:

  • The Nissan Versa is a great compact car. The two rental cars were both Versas. For compacts, they had good acceleration, handling and breaking. The gas milage was great. I spent $90 getting to Utah in a Versa and $150 in my truck. I thoroughly enjoyed doing ninety miles an hour to Utah and back to California in the different Versas almost entirely on cruise control.
  • Descending into Las Vegas is beautiful, while descending into Los Angelas is like diving into sea of glowing amber goop. The air above Las Vegas was clear and the strip sparkled from twenty miles away. LA, twenty miles away, is a horror story.
  • I did ninety through the Virgin River Gorge only hitting the brakes before the turns.
  • Driving between Baker to Barstow, CA, I saw and passed nothing except three Wal-Mart big rigs.
  • Driving between Parowan and Nephi, UT, I saw and passed nothing. I only saw a few animals crossing the highway. Headlights and snow-covered desert.
  • My truck’s chair does not adjust or have cruise control, so my back and legs still hurt.
  • I love that gas in Utah in less than $3 a gallon. The almost $4 a gallon in California is robbery, but most of that is in the form of state gas-tax.
  • Gambling pays for nice highways in Nevada, while Arizona ignores its stretch of chuck-holes making the Virgin River Gorge a terror ride and hell on any car’s suspension.