by Travis Mateer
When I saw this post on Facebook, I immediately hopped on my bike and went to the location where this alleged stabbing took place. Why? Well, I am doing this journalist thing, so that’s one reason, but I am ALSO realizing that maybe I should see stabbings as OPPORTUNITIES instead of crimes. Let me explain.
Earlier in the week, the City Councilors who represent this ward communicated to their colleagues that their constituents are PISSED about the Johnson Street shelter reopening for an entire year. Where the Crisis Mill Levy was originally going to fund the improvements needed to make this seasonal shelter a year-round facility, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency is now being looked at to provide funding for bathrooms.
As I biked around this area, taking pictures, I got a strong sense that the preliminary work to handle the bathroom improvements is already well underway.
In this image, the Johnson Street Shelter is the building visible just above the blue Business Access sign. The stabbing occurred about a block away, near a playground and dog park. As I approached the scene, blocked off by yellow tape, I could see a basketball court where I suspect the stabbing took place.
I’m not looking at this stabbing as an opportunity for me, though I certainly take full advantage to talk to as many people as possible when I’m on location of a scene like this, so maybe it IS an opportunity for me.
For example, when I talk to law enforcement, I’m not expecting them to tell me anything about an active investigation. Instead, I discuss the larger dynamics of what’s happening in our community, and some of the badges I’m talking to about the drug crisis gripping this valley and this nation are able to say they’re familiar and appreciative of my work.
I’m also checking in with local businesses, and the visibility of drug activity, including obvious drug deals, is getting so normalized, there no longer seems to be an expectation that anything is going to be done about it. It’s just the way things seem to be now.
The opportunity I’m thinking about comes from the fact people are so fed up in this particular neighborhood, some are deciding to move. If the reopening of the Johnson Street Shelter drives enough property owners away, prices in this slice of Missoula could suffer. And because of the possibility of depressed prices–in a part of town which will most definitely being seeing LOTS of investment (Midtown)–I smell OPPORTUNITY for developers to make some money!
Getting back to the stabbing, the Missoula Current is reporting one person is in the hospital and one person is in custody. The jail roster has a young man booked for deliberate homicide. Is this the alleged stabber?
I don’t know, but after a stabbing reported just a few days ago, it appears violence with sharp objects is the theme of the week.
We have an opportunity this summer, as a community, to assess what our ACTUAL priorities are when it comes to the drug crisis pretending to be a homeless crisis. Are we going to continue throwing six figures sums at lobbyists and economic development, or are we going to get serious about the drug epidemic and our critical LACK of resources, like treatment options.
A few weeks ago I was biking around Wyoming Street, so I stopped at Recovery Center Missoula. This facility used to have beds for in-patient treatment, but it’s transitioning into some kind of group home, I was told by a client doing some yard work (I couldn’t enter the facility because I was carrying). If true, this is NOT good, but I haven’t seen any media on this yet, so I doubt anyone beyond service providers even knows this might be happening.
I called and left a message, so will try to follow up on this topic at a later date because our community’s capacity to provide treatment options for addicts is a VERY important part of dealing with the drug crisis.
Thanks for reading!
A commenter provided a link to a Facebook page that led to a defunct GoFundMe for Jathan Moreno, here’s some context from the link: