Friday, May 30, 2008
Poverty and Despair (PT.1) ....
The City of San Francisco (CA) is currently installing meter's (parking meter type)to collect money for its homeless population. It is said that this already is done in cities like Portland (OR),and Baltimore (MD). What brought about this idea was citizens of the City of San Francisco complaining about the panhandler's that line the street's. In Dallas a couple years ago they started to issue citation's to those panhandling in certain area's/ district's due to similar complaint's. But the panhandler's just throw away the tickets ... they dont pay them, of course unpaid tickets go eventually into warrant status ... but I knew several panhandler's when I worked on the street, that have 20 warrant's or so ... the police never arrest them in most cases. So ... its a moot point. In Dallas for instance, you can have a half a dozen or so warrants on various petty misdemeanor citations, traffic or otherwise ... go into the jail in person to turn yourself in ... and be lucky if they even take you into custody ... in many cases ... they will turn you away. Why? For one ... the jail's here are overcrowded ... as in most major U.S. cities. Secondly ... because they want your money, they DONT want to feed you in the jail!
I am opposed to this, and basically think that it is insulting to the homeless, as some Bay Area homeless advocates are as well. San Francisco dont expect it to raise even more then $10,000 a year. How much of that little sum will actually be used by those living on the streets? I know a man currently that runs a soup kitchen in San Francisco for the homeless ... he's told me plenty when visiting family here in Dallas about how the homeless operations work there, although they are better than Dallas'. It's insulting in the respect that you are telling these homeless people that they are not capable of managing and collecting their own money. Those for this, complain that these homeless spend the money on things besides food ... like booze or dope (my goodness ... your kidding!) It doesnt matter what the Hell they spend it on ... if I give money to one ... thats my choice ... and what they spend it on ... is their choice, and as far as I'm concerned ... it's no one elses business or choice! If one BS's me about what their circumstances are and what they need it for ... I wont give them nothing ... because they are INSULTING my intelligence when doing so, I grew up on the streets! Be straight up with me, and I will be with you.
When I worked security in Uptown Dallas' West Village as well ... I made an effort to know everyone out on the street. A guy who owns a nearby business asked me one night (who I also protect his property) how come so many drug addict's and homeless know me and ask where I am? And why do I know so many? I told him (duuuuh) it's in mine and his best interest that I do know everyone on the streets ,alot of these folks are my bread and butter so to speak, cause they feed me info about what's current, and I return the favour to them in some way. I knew them all (in that sector) and what their vice's were per individual, whether its rock (crack/ coke) or crystal (meth/ ice)booze, blunts (chemical laced pot in cigar wrapping's) or what ever else one may prefer. That was my job basically. To protect the spenders, yuppies, the college crowd from getting jacked (robbed/ assaulted) at night while in the area. I had help from other commissioned/ non commissioned officers as well as the sector patrol of DPD and other contract officers of DPD who work after hours on a contract basis. We all depended on the info of these people to helping crack repeated cases in the area, knowledge of where undercover deployment is needed, extra patrol/ rounds or what have you. So it was common for me to give extra's to the homeless folks out there ... whether it was some food, or cigarettes, and even a few 40- ounce bottles of Malt Liqour (which I called "soft" drink's). Many of these people are not helpless ... or not needed ... their a 24/ 7 ear and mouthpiece to what is happening, you can say many of them ... contribute in their own way to society. And giving them a few bucks here and there was all part of the routine. I didnt care what they spent it on, I am looking for people that break into vehicles, rob folk's or whatever ... not those who ask for change, have a few drinks and smoke a blunt! "Blunt" is marijuana stuffed in a cigar wrapper sometime's laced with crack or "whacky" dust, like homemade formaldehyde based PCP.
One of the most irritating things is all the veterans you find out on the streets. And they all have a story ... many of those folks had a life at one time or another like any of us. Many had family, spouses, fought in various wars in our military, etc. Many have shown me more about life than I could ever know reading a book or a survey. Some just received one hardship after another ... and simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time. And these things gradually resulted in their social decline. You will find alot of despair wherever you find poverty. And its then that you realize that race or gender means nothing. this is something that hits all humans in todays world with true "equality". Some use drugs ... and therefore never can save enough money to ever establish a place to live, they simply cant kick the vice, and there's simply a lack of services to help them ... they become to where ... this is the only escape from the tragic reality in which they have to exist. For many ... that drink or bump (dope) is their way of getting a day off or a night of R&R to us. They have nothing else going for them.
The requirements for them to get back into society are a task in themselves, and a Hell of a task at that. I hear folks pass them by ... like young college type's or the types that I wrote about in earlier posts such as the case I ran into in downtown L.A. Where these folks ... tell them ... "Go find a job ..." Do these people realize how difficult it would be for any of these to find a job? Place's that hire folks want an address, a phone number, in more cases ... an email address, a person who is bathed,shaved, I could go on and on. Dallas wanted to make it citatable to give money to these people at a time ... because it seems "inviting" ... as to motive for these folks to panhandle. My money personally speaking I will give to whoever the Hell I want ... period. And if they use it to buy a 40- ounce of Malt Liqour ... that's fine too. I'll be damned if I will hand the money over to someone who reads surveys and does nothing but make ass prints in their seat at their office to handle it for these people! Once you get in a rut like that ... it is not easy to get out of it ... talking about how to do it is one thing ... getting out there and actually having to do it is another.
CASE/ STORY: One night I see a male/ white, late teens/ early 20's, 5'11"/ 6' back of a newer SUV in a dim lit parking lot ... he catches a glimpse of me ... and started to act suspicious ... walking fast down a neighboring alley, the lighting was dim, and it was close to midnight, so I couldnt get a good make on his clothing and if or what he was carrying ... I followed cautiously ... he quickly turned and asked if I was following him? ... I acknowledged and confirmed it. I told him I wanted to know what he was doing at that SUV. He told me nothing and said he can prove it, if that is what this is all about. I said ... "Sure ... " why not. He took me back to the spot, went into a shrub and pulled out a plastic grocery bag, handed it to me. It had condomes, tampax, soap, shave cream, razors, and other snack's and personal hygiene products in it. He told me that he thought the store sent me to get it back ... that he just shoplifted it from down the street. I told him ... that no ... I dont work for the store or am concerned with the products, I was simply trying to stop some of the many vehicle break ins that we encounter on a nightly basis. He asked.."Your not gonna call me in?" I said "No ... go ahead" he said ... "Thank you sir!" he started to quickly take off ... and I yelled to him to take his bag of stuff he stole with him ... he looked suprised and in question ... but grabbed it and took off. A few minutes prior to that ... out of curiosity I asked what all the personal hygiene stuff was for? He said him and his old lady (girlfriend) were staying in an abandoned building, they were homeless ... and it was just for them. I looked at it as charity ... I mean ... who the Hell steal's soap, Tampax and such? As far as the store, it was one of them chain's ... with 50 store's locally and a multi million dollar operation ... a few thing's like that wont make them or break them ... Hell ... it's a tax write off anyways. As far as I'm concerned ... the man is not a criminal ... he is only in "poverty and despair " ....