by Travis Mateer
Why should I be surprised that a local government official is either blatantly lying or critically ignorant of the dynamics at the Reserve Street bridge encampment?
Here is Casey Gannon’s depiction of the situation, which offends my sense of reality (emphasis mine):
He noted that initially, the camp was successful in drawing people out of long-term, entrenched illegal camps beneath the Reserve Street Bridge. However, in recent weeks, he said people have filtered back to living under the bridge and there is now a lot of highly visible trash.
“We’ve seen folks moving back to the illegal Reserve Street camp,” he said. “There’s quite a bit of trash dispersed and spread out among the area.”
Now, plenty of people in this town would accept this description at face value, but I’m not one of them. And that’s because my visits to the Reserve underworld indicate a few people NEVER LEFT the trash-strewn shanty town.
Another false reality this article hints at, then later discredits, is the notion that people returning have brought the trash problem back. That’s simply not true.
While the Montana Department of Transportation did everything in their power to ACT like they were going to do a clean-up last month, Bob “Soccer Ball” Vosen couldn’t muster the staffing, supposedly. But I’m sure he tried REALLY hard.
Gannon said that the Montana Department of Transportation, which owns the land under the bridge, was supposed to do a cleanup in March but canceled due to a lack of staffing.
Instead of waiting for our pathetic government agencies to clean-up their at-risk property, I’m going to volunteer my time and muscles with a few other ass-kickers later this month.
While we do this work for nearly free, the PRIVATE security company getting paid tens of thousands of dollars to manage this area is ALSO getting some good press.
Kevin Davis, an organizer for the Reserve Street Working Group, said volunteers are still needed for a cleanup of the riparian area under the bridge from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Earth Day, April 22.
Gannon said that county officials are aware of the trash under the Reserve Street Bridge.
“Rogers is working with the city to get people out from under the bridge again,” he said. “With the Johnson Street Emergency Winter Shelter closing on April 18, we’re going to see more urban camping. We’re going to continue to work with the city on how that’s going to be addressed. The Authorized Camping Site is one piece of the solution, but it’s not going to solve everything.”
What a fucking joke.
This clean-up is happening because the organizer, Kevin Davis, has been a relentless offerer of solutions when it comes the gap left behind after I left my job in 2016, effectively ending the collaborative clean-ups I had spent so much energy organizing with the Health Department and the Clark Fork Coalition.
One business owner in the area is so cynical that the underbelly of the bridge will get a clean-up, he took a five dollar bet. When I win that bet, I will purchase a caffeinated beverage, and proceed to the XXXs with my megaphone.
Thanks for reading!