Divide and Conquer

My daughter and I went to eat at Kesey Square around 11:45 am. Several kids stretched out in front of the Ken Kesey memorial. Behind the memorial, City Manger John Ruiz stood looking at the kids while talking to a colleague. 

My daughter and I sat down at the picnic benches. Ruiz commented loudly that their dog seemed not to have a registration tag. My daughter read her book while Ruiz called security guards, yelling, “Get over here, now.”  

One guard spoke with Ruiz when a couple approached, complaining about someone wavering around the block. The guards passed. Still the shorter of the two guards stopped for a moment and shouted at the kids before moving on. 

Ruiz leaned over his phone and texted. 

In a minute an armed officer arrived. She questioned the kids. A male officer arrived. Ruiz looked on. Eventually a young woman returned carrying sodas. Her friends dispersed and she was issued tickets for the dog. After, Ruiz spoke with the officers. 

We’ve allowed Ruiz, the City Council, police and security to target, harass and punish those they deem “outside the norm.” Targeting groups and creating second-class citizenship is the time-tested political strategy, divide et impera. Under this strategy, we all suffer.

My complicity and lack of protest has made this possible. I’m disgusted by our City Manager’s actions, but I also feel ashamed of myself. 

Otis Haschemeyer


EW reached out to the city, which responded: “The purpose of the ordinance is to create a safer downtown for everyone. It is only targeted at people who have a dog and would like to bring it downtown. The intent was to provide information to the owner about the updated rule that requires them to hold a valid dog license certifying the dog has been vaccinated for rabies.”

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