Dispatches from the War Zone is the Most Important Book About Fresno’s Persecution of the Homeless

Title: Dispatches from the War Zone

Author: Mike Rhodes

Former editor of the Community Alliance

Dispatches from the War Zone is Mike Rhodes’ first person account of more than 10 years of reporting on the Homeless issue in Fresno. Between the covers is a revelation of how the City of Fresno systematically oppressed the least privileged of us all. Turning an everyday survival situation into a criminal behavior.

Mike’s development as a homeless advocate started one fateful afternoon in the Summer of 2002 when Fresno police officer “Smith” was verbally abusing a homeless man named Dave Ritter. This was taking place in the alley behind Mike’s business. Officer Smith was calling Dave a “human cockroach” on society and calling his girlfriend a “whore”. This nasty interaction changed Mike from someone who was, generally annoyed with having to clean the human excrement and trash from around his business so customers and delivery services could get to his shop, into a staunch defender of the homeless often exposing the hypocrisy of the local establishment.

Dispatches from the War Zone shows another side to the city of Fresno’s treatment of the homeless. It is the true story of corruption and collusion between the Fresno Rescue Mission, the Poverello House local government officials and police. It exposes how they were the driving force behind the destruction of homeless camps in order to create a stream of refugee like individuals that they could propagate with their brand of christianity and all of it for a profit.

Not only focused on the homeless and their struggle with the establishment Dispatches from the War Zone is the story of a brave few who risked their personal safety to defend the least of us. The first hand accounts people using their bodies as barriers to stop a bulldozer driven by a man determined to destroy a tent, which unbeknownst to anyone before hand was occupied by a sleeping homeless man. The excitement roused him from his slumber and he was able to move but it is more than likely that the actions of that brave woman saved his life.

Complete with profiles of those who have lived on the streets of Fresno, Dispatches from the War Zone captures perfectly the obstacles that people have to overcome on a daily basis in order to survive. It’s the chronicling of how government officials conspired to undermine the homeless population, while at the same time padding their pockets.

The more I think about it, what I’m most outraged about is how the mayor and City Hall has figured out how to not only undermine the homeless but make money off of it. The corruption in this town runs so deep that it is just business as usual when a developer makes $1 million from consulting on a housing project for the homeless and takes some of that profit to support(Mayor) Swearengin’s political aspirations. I’m in awe of their audacity and ability to by and large pull off the scam.

Dispatches from the War Zone is the most important book about systemic mistreatment of homeless populations, not only in Fresno but throughout the United States.

More and more we see measures taken to inconvenience anyone who happens to be without permanent shelter. Cities are installing anti-sleep benches to dissuade anyone from resting over night. In London they have adopted the use of ground spikes to prevent anyone from sleeping under the freeways or in covered corners.

The homeless population in Sacramento is still fighting a brutal battle for the right to rest. Homeless people and community activists endured the winter weather as they demanded an end to the city’s anti camping laws.

Dispatches from the War Zone is a mandatory addition to the library of anyone who works closely with the homeless and should be read everyone if the desired effect it to be achieved.

Don’t take our word for it, check out what others are saying about Dispatches from the War Zone.

Anyone who cares about the homeless, will benefit. And when we think this through, that would be every one of us who winces when we see folks with so little despite all the plenty that surrounds us all in the wealthiest society that the world has ever known. – Barbara Rhine

 Dispatches from the War Zone is available online from Amazon.

Make sure to attend one of Mike Rhodes upcoming speaking events this month. You can pick up a copy for yourself and asks any questions you may have.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016
6:30 p.m.
San Joaquin Valley Democratic Club Meeting
Denny’s at 1110 E.Shaw Ave.



Monday, April 11 at 6 p.m.
Presentation and book reading
Gillis Branch of the Fresno County Library
629 W Dakota Ave in Fresno

Saturday, April 16 at 7 p.m.
Speaker at the Community Alliance fund-raiser
Unitarian Universalist Church
2672 E Alluvial Ave, Clovis

Wednesday, April 20 at 6 p.m.
Presentation and book reading
Betty Rodriguez regional library
629 N Cedar Ave in Fresno

Friday, April 22 at 6:30 p.m.
Presentation and book reading
Reedley Peace Center – Fellowship Hall of First Mennonite Church
Located on L Street between 12th and 13th Streets in Reedley

Saturday, April 23 at 7 p.m.
Presentation and book reading
North Fork Studio
For directions, see:  http://nfstudio.org/?page_id=190

Wednesday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m.
Presentation and book reading
At the home of Barbara Rhine and Walter Riley
For more information, contact Barbara at (510) 923-1295

Purchase Dispatches from the War Zone on Amazon.

The next time you see someone standing on the corner holding a will work for food sign, remember the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.