by William Skink
I admit it, I checked out the comments on Missoulian articles all the time. Before they stopped allowing them, every article about homelessness would have a few people referencing whatever had happened, saying that’s why they don’t go downtown anymore. I’m sure walter12 was one of them.
I’m going to try and not sound like one of those commenters.
I was downtown enjoying First Friday this weekend when an altercation occurred that resulted in me dialing 911. Luckily my family wasn’t with me when a rough looking 50 year old dude on a bike hit me from behind as I was standing on the sidewalk. I wasn’t injured, but I called out the dude for hitting me. At first the guy denied it, then quickly started getting aggressive. I told him to walk away, but he came after me instead, so I called 911.
I’m not sure if the guy was drunk or not, or if he was homeless or not. After talking to a few police officers, I went back to where I had been hit. I talked to an old client drinking openly by the Palace Apartments who had seen the guy come after me, and he said he thinks he’s camped out in one of the parking garages.
The next day, Saturday, again downtown, I witnessed a very obviously intoxicated white male just walk into traffic at Broadway and Higgins. After multiple cars blasted their horns at him, he made it to the other side and plopped down next to a few other street people.
I mentioned my experiences at work today and a co-worker mentioned a Facebook post from the co-owner of Curves, located on West Broadway. She was complaining about finding more and more needles and trash, and even took pictures. Someone told her that homelessness downtown is going to be on the City Council agenda next Monday.
I’m sure it will be.
This time of year gets especially antagonistic because actual transients (as opposed to year-round homeless residents of our fair city) do start blowing through at greater frequency. I’ve noticed more gutter-punk types starting to show up recently, and they can cause all kinds of hell for everyone. The summer of 2013 stands out as particularly bad for that element.
Will I stop going downtown? No. I won’t keep my family from enjoying the good parts downtown Missoula has to offer. But I won’t hesitate to cross the street or call 911 if I see someone I think is too drunk or mentally unstable to expose my kids to.