The Humboldt Edge

Homeless in Humboldt County: An early cast of characters

By Marion

“Then I met the founder of the American Homeless Society, Ruben Botello, a former Marine, and a backer of Cesar Chavez. He also did several hunger strikes in Humboldt County”

I was from LA County. I had experienced the 1965 Watts Riots first hand at 12 years old. My father drove us through Watts to see the action. I was impressed by what I had seen. After the fire, there was a relative calm in South Central LA and the gangs dedicated themselves to the improvement of the community under the leadership of Bunchy Carter, a former gang member and later leader of the Los Angeles branch of the Black Panther Party.

In 1974, I moved to Humboldt County to go to school at HSU. When I arrived I was amazed. I traveled up Hwy 5 to Redding and received a major shock when I turned west down 299 toward Arcata. I had never seen such beauty in all my life.

When I arrived I met Raven and Doobie who I met on Clam Beach where we lived from July until December. They were both homeless Vets out of the Vietnam War. Raven is the best friend I have ever had. Already fulfilled with good soul music, I was introduced to message Rock and Roll, learned survival skills and how to live cooperatively for the benefit of all and I learned to love nature more so than living in boxes.

Then I met the founder of the American Homeless Society, Ruben Botello, a former Marine, and a backer of Cesar Chavez. He also did several Hunger Strikes in Humboldt County. He was working on finishing at HSU so that he could get into law school at the time. He would let us crash at his house on occasion in 1974.

My first experience with homelessness really began when I started to visit the Eureka Rescue Mission in 1976. I heard Minister Jim Durkin the founder of Gospel Outreach out on the South Spit Jetty and again later in El Verbo, Guatemala.

When I visited Gospel Outreach one night, an Outreach minister called me up to redeem my “ill ways.” He then called for his followers to come up and put their hands on my head and then asked me if I had seen the light. I admit I was freaked but retorted that I hadn’t experienced anything unusual. He then repeated the prayer and I repeated my former answer.

Later, I stayed overnight and asked for a blanket but was given a sheet by the custodian. I froze that night and decided to head back to town the next day. I do believe this may have been Rios Montt.

Rios Montt later ran a coup d’état against the former president in 1982, ministered the Church of the Word, committed the genocide of many native Mayans leaving thousands homeless, imposed Jim Durkin’s “Beans and Bullets” program and was dubbed “King of the New Testament.” He was supported by several televangelists such as Pat Robertson and members of the Reagan Administration.


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1 Comment

  1. Fryed Taters June 30, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    very interesting….I and a friend of mine from Arcata house went out nights at the Clam Beach camp and did security as the McKinleyville town folk would bring their garbage out and spread it around the camp and say it was the homeless campers that were making such a mess, they would also run down their dogs and scare the children. Truck drivers would drive by the camp on the freeway at midnight or 2am and blow their horns from one end of the camp to the other as they drove by to disturb people and make them leave.
    Ruben Botello, Verbena and I engaged in a hunger strike at Eureka City Hall, he (Ruben) also was silent at this time in protest of the homeless conditions in 1991.
    The reputation of Lighthouse Ranch is a bit murky to say the least and I am glad I never had an occasion to become involved in this program.
    Kathy Anderson

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