Response to letter to the editor…

Friends and I went to the Festival of Nations downtown. Halfway through we sat on Downtown Improvement Board-provided chairs to watch dancers. Right behind us was a very drunk man. He fell twice within feet of my friends’ teenage daughter — a clear danger to himself and others.

I went in search of a police officer and found a DIB event staff member who radioed for help. At the same time, a citizen parked on the side street exited his car and was calling the police as well. He watched the falls from his car mirror. While waiting for an officer, we were informed this same man was “run off” the night before for trying to sleep in the area. An officer arrived and took the man to the side. I’m not sure what happened, but the officer sent him on his way.

He made it across the street, where something else must have happened, because now there were two officers and then three. By now people were watching this and not the dancers. Out came the handcuffs and he was marched across the street (in the middle of the festival). This drunken vagrant was being taken to wherever the police take them to sleep it off.

He will be let out and the cycle repeated. He is not a resident of the Rescue Mission, he is a vagrant, one with a drinking problem that the system plays like a washing machine — wash, rinse, repeat.

What I have on my desk is a three-page resume from a resident of the mission actively looking for a job — a hand up, not a hand out. You have a vagrant problem downtown, not a mission one.

What I find very odd is that since March we have attended almost every Saturday Farmers Market in St. Andrews and have never encountered a vagrant. They have day labor deck hands, Tan Fannies and the parole office. I have never come across a vagrant at Pier Park either. The mission is not part of the problem. The vagrants are the problem.

KAREN DELANEY

Panama City

Ms. Delaney in her letter to the editor makes some unproven assumptions and her conclusion that there are no vagrants in the St. Andrews area actually only serves to prove the point that the rescue mission IS the genesis of the vagrancy problem downtown. She commented that the drunkard in question “is not a resident of the rescue mission”. How does she know that?  Did she stop and interview the man? Is she sure this man has never been in the mission or used their facilities? Keep in mind not everyone who USES the mission is a RESIDENT. It is quite reasonable to believe  that this individual is downtown because those who have like minds and values of his are downtown at the mission as well.  

If the mission were to relocate to a vacant building off Beck avenue in St. Andrews, Ms. Delaney would begin to see the very thing she describes as missing there now…a vagrancy problem. Why are many in our community  so challenged in being able to see the true cause of the problem (the location of the rescue) or even recognize that there IS a problem that effects downtown residence and business people? The saying about “walking in another mans shoes” comes to mind….
Read more: http://www.newsherald.com/articles/friends-98427-downtown-drunk.html#ixzz1f1Qt1O61

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