Eviction and race war

See updates through November 13, 2020, at end of post.


Pennsylvania’s eviction protections for those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic have run out, so courts may now hear eviction cases:[1]

[Matthew] Rich said it may take awhile for all the backlogged eviction cases to work their way through the courts. But some of the earliest cases could land people on the street starting in late September or early October, Rich said.[2]

A broken rental assistance program, which, of course, the legislature has not fixed, has been little help.[3]

Governor Tom Wolf has been counting on the legislature to fix the rental assistance program and refused—even though it is likely (his office disputes this) within his power to do so—to extend the order holding off evictions. Now one in five Pennsylvanians likely faces eviction.[4]

None of this—absolutely none of it—addresses the illegal evictions that have happened in the U.S., including in Pennsylvania.[5] I’m just waiting to see what all these Trumpsters do when they’re thrown out on the street with their precious guns when their president has all but declared a race war,[6] with their racist assignment of blame for their problems,[7] and with a conflict between white supremacist militia and Black Lives Matter protesters already having turned violent in other places around the country.[8] I worry for the rest, some of whom I already see on street corners panhandling—I’m assuming this winter won’t be as mild as the last.


Fig. 1. Map of gratuitously displayed guns and other weaponry in the Pittsburgh area, compiled by author.

The forecast calls for a tenant uprising,[9] but it’s time for me to confess to an example of selective observation: Coming from California, where except in some neighborhoods, Blacks are generally a smaller portion of the population, I noticed them more when I moved here to Pittsburgh, along with a vivid intersection of race and class. It’s true that these guns are very often placed where near poor and working class Blacks who may often be vulnerable to eviction live (figure 1). What I’m only beginning to see is that poor and working class whites, also likely vulnerable to eviction, are still in these places, often flying their Confederate flags (figure 2).
IMG_20200429_172952
Fig. 2. The front yard of a house in Clairton, Pennsylvania. There are five flags here, two U.S. Army flags, a U.S. flag, a confederate flag, and, behind the telephone pole, a Betsy Ross flag. Photograph by author, April 29, 2020. See the full collection of “White Supremacism” photographs.

The reason eastern Orthodox churches (slideshow, figure 3) can be present in these communities is not only that adherents, presumably of eastern European ancestry, are driving in from better off neighborhoods, but because adherents, along with other whites, are still in these neighborhoods.


Fig. 3. Slideshow of Eastern Orthodox Churches around Pittsburgh. Photographs by author, 2020. See the full collection of “Ethnic Remnants” photographs.

So in Pittsburgh, and in places like it, I wouldn’t count on that uprising[10] going in a Left direction: I’m increasingly understanding these guns, especially tanks, ostentatiously displayed (slideshow, figure 4), allegedly to honor veterans, as signifying conflict zones (figure 1) between working class and poor whites and Blacks.


Fig. 4. Slideshow of gratuitous guns. Photographs by author, 2019-2020. See the full collection.

I have perceived that whites—now jobless and on the streets, they’ll have nothing to lose— here were preparing for race war.[11] We may be about to find out what that means and I’m just guessing the governor hasn’t reckoned on it.


Update, September 2, 2020: I’m still not quite sure what to make of it, but it appears Donald Trump has signed or at least the Trump administration has issued an order forestalling evictions for people making less than $99,000 per year and having trouble making their rent through the end of the year.[12]

That should keep many of his Trumpsters off the street through the election, long enough perhaps for Trump to get reelected, and through Christmas. So we might have a reprieve, only temporary, but a reprieve from the violence I worried about yesterday.[13] 2021, however, will be a new year.

Update, November 13, 2020: The Federal Bureau of Investigation says Pittsburgh is a “hub” for white supremacism, including, possibly, violent white supremacism. The FBI is limited in its investigations because much of the activity is talk—speech, protected by the First Amendment—and not actually criminal.[14]

  1. [1]Elizabeth Hardison, “Pa.’s moratorium on evictions has ended. Here’s what that means,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, September 1, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/working-the-economy/pa-s-moratorium-on-evictions-has-ended-heres-what-that-means/
  2. [2]Elizabeth Hardison, “Pa.’s moratorium on evictions has ended. Here’s what that means,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, September 1, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/working-the-economy/pa-s-moratorium-on-evictions-has-ended-heres-what-that-means/
  3. [3]Elizabeth Hardison, “Pa.’s moratorium on evictions has ended. Here’s what that means,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, September 1, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/working-the-economy/pa-s-moratorium-on-evictions-has-ended-heres-what-that-means/
  4. [4]Stephen Caruso, “Gov. Wolf says his executive authority has run out on extending eviction moratorium, perplexing some experts,” Pittsburgh City Paper, August 28, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/gov-wolf-says-his-executive-authority-has-run-out-on-extending-eviction-moratorium-perplexing-some-experts/Content?oid=17896117; Elizabeth Hardison, “Pa.’s moratorium on evictions has ended. Here’s what that means,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, September 1, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/working-the-economy/pa-s-moratorium-on-evictions-has-ended-heres-what-that-means/
  5. [5]Associated Press, “Tenants Behind on Rent in Pandemic Face Harassment, Eviction,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/virginia/articles/2020-06-13/tenants-behind-on-rent-in-pandemic-face-harassment-eviction
  6. [6]Kathleen Parker, “Trump has essentially declared a ‘race war,’” Washington Post, July 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-has-essentially-declared-a-race-war/2019/07/30/ad6ae554-b305-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html
  7. [7]Jason Togyer, “Fear and Loathing in the Time of Coronavirus,” Columbia Journalism Review, March 25, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/mckeesport-year-of-fear-covid-19-pandemic.php
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, August 31, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/
  9. [9]Emma Ockerman, “The Tenant Uprising Is Here, and It’s Fierce,” Vice, August 7, 2020, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7kpdyq/the-tenant-uprising-is-here-and-its-fierce
  10. [10]Emma Ockerman, “The Tenant Uprising Is Here, and It’s Fierce,” Vice, August 7, 2020, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7kpdyq/the-tenant-uprising-is-here-and-its-fierce
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Militia territory,” Not Housebroken, November 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/11/22/militia-territory/
  12. [12]John Fritze and Nicholas Wu, “Trump administration announces nationwide eviction moratorium through end of the year,” USA Today, September 1, 2020, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/09/01/trump-imposes-eviction-moratorium-because-covid-19-pandemic/5686402002/
  13. [13]David Benfell, “Eviction and race war,” Not Housebroken, September 1, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/01/eviction-and-race-war/
  14. [14]Ewan Palmer, “FBI Warn White Supremacist Activity in Pittsburgh Among Highest in Country,” Newsweek, November 13, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pittsburgh-white-supremacist-fbi-far-right-1547149

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