By Max R. Weller
Read Boulder homeless deaths remembered with pleas and passion in the Daily Camera. Quoting from the article below:
The rock that Joy Redstone held aloft was dark, with rough edges, like the life experiences of the homeless men and women that several dozen people had gathered to remember. Inside the stone, gold-colored crystals sparkled.
This was the rock that people would hold as they remembered the homeless people who have died already this year in Boulder.
“We are all broken,” Redstone had said as she opened the mid-year homeless memorial. “And we are all sacred.”
But finding words was not always easy.
“I’ve been to so many of these,” said a man who gave his name as Bruce. “I’ve had so many friends pass. I don’t know what to say. It’s hard to live like this.”
Bruce said Janice “CJ” Adams, whose body was found April 4 in the area of the Boulder Creek Path underpass near Arapahoe Avenue and Broadway, was his girlfriend, but he was in jail the night she died.
“If I had been there, I could have helped her,” he said.
Adams was one of five people who died outside in Boulder this spring and one of nine members of the homeless community remembered Saturday.
My online comment is copied here:
The fact is that the packs of homeless/transient people I’ve seen here in Boulder since early 2008, loitering in all of the popular public venues and creating all sorts of problems (criminal and otherwise), do NOT look out for each other’s safety and welfare. To the contrary; they steal from, assault, rape, and even kill homeless people they perceive as weaker than themselves (very few homeless-on-homeless crimes are reported). And when they’re all passed out together, one of ’em can die from alcohol poisoning and nobody will be aware until it’s too late to call 9-1-1. It’s happened repeatedly, but the do-gooders won’t tell you that.
BTW, just how much credibility should any thinking person give to “social worker and activist” Joy Eckstine Redstone? See: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=112689466…
At least one columnist at the DC understands the real issue: Sean Maher: Let’s encourage the ‘travelers’ to keep traveling. Copied below in its entirety:
Police are responding to a “drastic increase” in the number of calls related to panhandling, illegal camping and disturbances.
After recently busting more than 50 illegal campsites in the city limits and writing 32 citations, the deputy chief of police commented “It’s definitely a problem. It’s concerning, we’ve got beautiful downtown areas, we’ve got trails, a lot of great areas and they become trashed.”
Not surprising to hear if you have taken a morning stroll along the Boulder Creek Path this summer.
But hold on.
The above comment is not referring to Boulder. It’s from a recent Channel 4 News story about problems in Fort Collins. The quote is from Jerry Schiager, the Fort Collins deputy chief.
Another recent story in a local paper reports on the “unusually high” number of transients downtown this summer and the problems stemming from the large influx.
The Daily Camera reporting on Boulder? Nope, it was the Denver Post reporting on problems in downtown Denver.
So what we’re seeing this summer is not unique to Boulder. We’re facing a regional problem that is impacting cities up and down the Front Range. Why does it seem worse this year? According to the Post, most experts blame a surge of young “travelers” looking for marijuana. Kendall Rames from Denver’s Urban Peak shelter stated “Of the new kids we’re seeing, the majority are saying they’re here because of weed. They’re traveling through.”
That assessment syncs with what I see every day in Boulder. Just count the number of “Need Weed” signs you see in the hands of young panhandlers around town.
So what do we do?
First, let’s not confuse these “travelers” looking for pot with the real victims of homelessness. These are not local people enduring a crisis. These are drifters who have come here from far and wide to indulge in a lifestyle. I don’t care if they smoke pot, but they have no right to use our parks as campgrounds and our alleys as toilets. They have no right to harass people or engage in petty crime to support their chosen lifestyle.
We should support Chief Testa and Boulder Police Department. They have a tough job and their handling of social misbehavior problems is under constant scrutiny.
On a daily basis, I see our officers engage with people from all walks of life and have never witnessed the targeting of any group. They do great work and deserve the community’s support. The City Council should encourage them to keep up tough but fair enforcement efforts.
Next, our service providers should consider some conditions on who gets access to free food and other “emergency services.” We need to figure out how to encourage those who need help dealing with real homeless issues and discourage those who show up here for the party.
As the news stories at the top of this column illustrate, this surge of travelers is not confined to one city. It is a regional problem, and we need to engage other impacted cities to come up with regional best practices. I’ve been told by our private security staff that several troublemakers downtown claim they were encouraged to come to Boulder by police officers in a nearby city.
Let’s hope that is not true because pushing the problem to the next town is not a long-term solution. We need to incentivize them to leave the region.
Finally, we cannot and should not focus all of our energy and resources on those causing trouble. We still have true victims of homelessness who need help. We have to consider greater year-round access to both short-term shelter and long-term housing solutions. However, like the problems caused by the travelers, the issues of true homelessness are regional. Boulder County and our neighboring communities need to work with Boulder to share the burden of helping those who really want to improve their lives.
If you’re interested in staying informed on either or both of these problems, consider attending the the City Council study session on Aug. 26. It will be an interesting discussion, and I hope at least part of it focuses on ways to encourage the travelers to keep traveling.
Sean Maher is executive director of the Downtown Boulder Business Improvement District and Downtown Boulder Inc. The views expressed here are his own and not representative of either organization. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hear, hear! BTW, it’s no secret that Denver PD has been “encouraging” homeless troublemakers there to move on to Boulder since the Democratic National Convention way back in the summer of 2008.
Facebook photo and caption from This is Boulder Colorado:
Scenes at the Peace Garden. Would you feel welcome sitting in this cloud of dope smoke with your kids?
I enjoyed reading “Paths of Glory” by Jeffrey Archer over the weekend. I didn’t have a problem with the author taking license with history in the interest of telling the story (or what might have been the story) of George Mallory. Thanks to my friend, Roman, for giving me this most entertaining novel!
Apparently, Dallas Transient (the subject of previous mentions on my blog) has returned to that Texas city. As I’d predicted, he did get into the Transition Program at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, but claimed last week to have obtained a Section 8 apartment in Dallas, TX. Good luck to him; he was quite a colorful character, and Boulder, CO gets more than its fair share of these from all over America.
Tonight at my campsite: Chester’s fried chicken from King Soopers.