The woman on the left is a mother from Miami who was so desperate to feed her hungry family that she was trying to steal a lot of food.
The woman on the right is Miami-Dade County Police Officer Vicki Thomas. Officer Thomas was about to arrest Jessica Robles but changed her mind at the last minute.
Instead of arresting her, she bought Robles $100 worth of groceries:
“I made the decision to buy her some groceries because arresting her wasn’t going to solve the problem with her children being hungry.”
And there’s no denying they were hungry. Robles’ 12 year old daughter started crying when she told local TV station WSVN about how dire their situation was:
“[It’s] not fun to see my brother in the dirt hungry, asking for food, and we have to tell him, ‘There is nothing here.’”
Officer Thomas says she has no question that what she did was right:
“To see them go through the bags when we brought them in, it was like Christmas. That $100 to me was worth it.”
But Officer Thomas did have one request:
“The only thing I asked of her is, when she gets on her feet, that she help someone else out. And she said she would.”
And guess what? The story gets even better.
After word got out about what happened people donated another $700 for Jessica Robles to spend at the grocery store.
And then best of all a local business owner invited her in for an interview and ended up hiring her on the spot as a customer service rep.
She started crying when he told her:
“There’s no words how grateful I am that you took your time and helped somebody out. Especially somebody like me.”
And to think it all started with one veteran police officer trusting her “instinct” instead of going “by the book”.
I N S T I N C T
It’s not really about instinct though. PLENTY of cops who shoot unarmed Black children are indeed acting on instinct—instinctual hatred.
No, this officer was acting on EMPATHY. This officer took the time and energy to think about the human being in front of her and react humanely. This officer was not acting on impulse—which is necessary when acting solely on instinct—but acting with rational assessment to the problem she was faced with. Empathy may be instinctual for her; but it has to be practiced that way, and what she really deserved praise for is the original step of extending thought and consideration to other people.
Empathy and logic too. Arresting this woman was only going to have the net effect of increasing misery in the world. The government would have spent thousands to process her, house her (if she can’t afford bail, which is likely) and her children. She gets a record and has an even harder time finding work with the possibility of losing her kids to a system that can’t take care of them. Both this family and society in general is worse off. This police officer made a wise as well as an empathetic decision.
William Jennings Bryan, Principal Speech Against Unconditional Repeal (16 August 1893).
Let’s make sure we have the law straight: If you’re a poor mother, you can be arrested for child neglect if you leave your kids alone while you go to a food bank so you can feed them, go to a job interview (so you can feed them), or work (so you can feed them).
These arrests are part of the terrible trap we’ve set for impoverished parents:
In the mid-1990s, President Clinton signed welfare reform legislation into law that changed welfare in America profoundly. One of the major changes welfare reform brought about was the work requirement. Now, even women with young children were required to be working, or looking for work, in order to receive benefits. In a radio address after signing the bill, Clinton promised that if poor people went to work, “we will protect the guarantees of health care, nutrition, and child care, all of which are critical to helping families move from welfare to work.”
We broke that promise. State and federal childcare spending last year fell to the lowest level since 2002. Much of the money available for childcare comes to states through Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or today’s version of welfare, but TANF hasn’t been adjusted for inflation since 1996. It’s lost a third of its value since then. The money spent on childcare has declined from a high of $4 billion in 2000 to $2.6 billion in 2013. That means fewer and fewer children get subsidized care. The number of children served by subsidies is at the lowest level since 1998. In [Shanesha] Taylor’s home state of Arizona, childcare spending has been axed by 40 percent, dropping 33,000 kids. In [Debra] Harrell’s, it was cut by more than 30 percent, dropping 2,500 children.
We’ve also taken the rug out from under any mothers who might need assistance because they can’t find work or the work doesn’t pay enough. In 1996, welfare reached 72 percent of poor families with children. That had dropped to a mere 26 percent by 2012.
So when a homeless mother needs to go to a job interview or a mother making less than $8 an hour needs to go to work, what options have we given them? Few, if any.
— Michael Rivero (via lapalomanegra, fucknobigbrother) (via femmewolfprince) (via navigatethestream) (via solidarityforever) (via mommapolitico) (via truth-has-a-liberal-bias) (via kogiopsis) (via yawniambored) (via aliaisqueen) (via caffeinatedriot) (via official-mens-frights-activist) (via rainforest-rusalki) (via commodifiedsouls)
— Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director for the Center for Community Change
…The “discussion draft” submitted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to the House Budget Committee on potential solutions to poverty in America includes the proposal that low-income Americans would have to sign “contracts” in order to remain eligible for social safety net benefits, such as food stamps, or SNAP. The contract would include: benchmarks, such as finding a job, enrolling in employment training, or even meeting “new acquaintances outside circle of poverty”; a “timeline” in which individuals are contractually-obligated to meet those benchmarks; bonuses for meeting benchmarks early; and “sanctions for breaking the terms of the contract”:
I’m sure giving the impoverished even more paperwork to deal with will help them not be poor anymore. As with almost all libertarians, Paul Ryan is secretly a major fan of big government—as long as it’s used to crush people other than him.
It’s funny that Ryan is so hellbent on ‘reforming’ entitlements like Social Security. It seemed to work fine for him. You all remember that he paid for college using Social Security survivor benefits, right?
Matt Bruenig on the brilliant ways Gaines-Turner, a woman who testfieid about her experiences with poverty at a congressional hearing, responded to Republican assholery. Democratic leadership could learn a thing or two from her!
To be fair though, outsmarting a congressional Republican is probably easy compared to the rigors of dealing with poverty on a daily basis.
Steadfast conservative = Teabagger, Christian theocrat
Business conservative = plutocrat
Young “outsiders” = libertarians, more accurately described as young Republicans
When our donors met the actual people they were helping they often didn’t like them. During our Secret Santa drive, volunteers sometimes refused to drop gifts at houses with TVs inside. They got angry when clients had cell phones or in some other way didn’t match their expectations. Other times, the donations we got were too disgusting to pass along—soup cans that bulged with botulism and diapers so dry rotted they crumbled in our hands. One Thanksgiving, a board member called from the parking lot, requesting help carrying a frozen turkey from her trunk to our office. “Can you find a deserving family?” she asked. I lugged the bird up three flights of stairs. Somewhere near the top, I noticed the expiration date. It was seventeen years old.
This is really good. Read it when you get a chance.