Jan 23, 2012
Four homeless men living on the streets of Orange County, California were murdered between December 20 and January 13. The murders seem to be the acts of a serial killer, and a particularly violent one – each victim was stabbed at least 40 times. The police arrested 23-year-old Itzcoatl “Izzy” Ocampo, whom bystanders chased down after the fourth murder.
People who know Ocampo painted a picture of him that’s anything but that of a gruesome murderer. In fact, he was known to be compassionate and generous to the poor and homeless.
Ocampo himself comes from a family that has lived with the reality of unemployment and homelessness. His father lost his job as a warehouse manager in 2005, and has not found steady employment since then.
Ocampo is an Iraq war veteran. In 2006, the year after his father lost his job, the younger Ocampo joined the Marines. A friend who had basic training with Ocampo said he was “really motivated” and “gung- ho” then.
Ocampo acted very differently when he came back in 2010 after two years of deployment in Iraq. A roommate said he would wake up screaming twice a week. His brother said he would look for bombs in the closets and bathrooms at home. He had trembling hands and hallucinations. His behavior got worse when a Marine friend was killed in Afghanistan.
Upon his return from Iraq, Ocampo also found his father living under a bridge. And he himself met the scourge of unemployment. His brother said Ocampo was always applying for jobs, including at Wal-Mart and other stores, but they would never call him back.
Whatever led him to become a ruthless murderer, if he is the one who killed these men – one thing is for certain: Izzy Ocampo is a victim of the Iraq war and unemployment.
And the four homeless men who were killed are victims of a war as well – for there are two different kinds of wars going on. One is waged by the U.S. military, invading other countries – spreading misery in those countries. The other is waged by U.S. companies, laying off workers – spreading misery and homelessness in this country.
Both wars are waged on behalf of the rich, to make them richer. Ruined lives are the price – and workers pay it.