by Travis Mateer
First, let me say I appreciate Daniel Carlino’s continued dedication to his principles, but on this issue I do not agree with the characterization of the balance being sought in public parks as school kids are on the verge of summer break and the conflicts are already happening, like they did in one park last summer near the Youth Homes site by the Blue Mountain Clinic on West Broadway.
Here is the park where one urban camper was jumped by five others, then, later that same day, a fire broke out in the park. Also, someone shot arrows near the Youth Home building, which did get the guy a weapons charge. I’m not sure if anyone was charged when a man hit another man in the face with a baseball bat, something the kids actually saw happen.
When a public location like this has had this kind of violence, it doesn’t matter if the most recent urban campers are keeping a clean camp or not. I would assume the presence of ANY tents is probably not appreciated by the staff and kids (ages 14-18) who have to work and live there. And by my count, there are currently four tents as I pan just slightly to the right:
Here’s the comment so you can hear for yourself the scenarios described:
If you follow the “weapons charge” link above, you will read about a VERY concerning individual who is well known to many providers and, I’m assuming, law enforcement. Here’s what he looks like:
Another comment came from a community woman with a story about running across someone openly masturbating near the Nature Center. Here’s the comment:
Now, to try and balance my own reporting (although I do not claim to be objective), let’s take a look at the Missoulian’s coverage, since portraying anyone without homes as victims is a theme they are good at duplicating over and over again. Will this coverage jive with the sentiment expressed by Carlino that we, as a community, just criminalized being homeless in public parks? (emphasis mine):
Gibson and Small-Ray readily acknowledge that they’re living unsheltered mainly due to battles with addiction and substance abuse. But, they say, there’s not really any other options besides camping in public parks.
“I don’t blame the city for thinking that way,” Small-Ray said, when asked how he would feel if he were camping in a public park and asked to move. “But it would kind of feel like the community has let us down.”
“Like they’re against us,” Gibson agreed. “Yes, we’re homeless, but we’re part of the community, too.”
Small-Ray said that if camps in public parks are removed, more people will just camp farther out of the inner core of the city, maybe along the Kim Williams Trail.
“Some people will go along with it, but some people are gonna stand their ground,” Small-Ray said. “And that will give everyone (who’s camping) a bad name in the community.”
As it happens, I spoke with these campers as well. The young Native on the left is the son of an infamous street couple I knew well, but they’re no longer around. He told me yesterday about some creep approaching their camp recently trying to solicit women for sex. I asked if the guy was a white dude, and he said no, darker skin and an accent. Interesting.
I took a few pictures of trash and graffiti in this area. One picture especially got my interest, for a very disturbing reason. First, here’s some of what I observed yesterday while biking around:
This last picture has the word PANDA with a heart. Why do I find this disturbing? Because “Panda eyes” is supposedly some screwed up slang that you can look up yourself if you want, I’m not going to facilitate it with a link.
Now, before getting to MY public comment, leave it to Martin Kidston to make sure HIS readers are aware of Carlino’s comments regarding the ACLU (emphasis mine):
Advocates of the ordinance change said it’s not perfect, but most described it as a necessary step to protect the public. The measure passed committee on an 8-1 vote, with council member Daniel Carlino standing alone in opposition.
He also tried to add an amendment, which also failed on a 9-1 vote.
“This is absolutely not a solution,” he said. “I guess I’ll reach out to the ACLU and other groups who are ready to sue over things like this. You’re just trying to move someone from one space to another space. It’s not going to make our community safer. I’m very disappointed in this council.”
If adopted next month, the ordinance would take effect immediately and stay in effect for 90 days.
Now, my comments were geared toward safety and information, meaning if we had more information about who is camping, that could help with public safety. I’ll get more into the specifics in a later post. For now, you can listen to what I said below (with an appropriate tone, I hope):
I like the look on Mike and Daniel’s faces! And here’s comment two:
On Twitter I noticed the urban camping issue has caught the attention of our LET HER SPEAK Representative, who predictably regurgitates Housing First talking points while hoping Federal money can save us:
Thanks for reading!