By Ron O’Clair
I have resided right next door to the P.I.P. Shelter for the last 14 years, since 03 July 1996 to be exact. I have seen most everything, and I have also heard most everything, often in the wee hours of the morning. The people that hang around the shelter, many of them clients, or former clients in some cases, cause all kinds of trouble for the average resident of the neighborhood.
We are more than tired of the bullshit that goes on day and night. Mostly due to the fact that the shelter is part of the neighborhood, and acts like a magnet that draws them to it like flies to honey. They stand out there selling drugs, sun, rain, snow, or sleet, do not seem to matter, it is business as usual for them.
There are a lot of rip off artists amongst them, and the customers that are ripped off sometimes come back looking to get revenge on the ones that ripped them off, so there have been cases of mistaken identity where an innocent bystander takes the punishment dished out as a result.
Blood has been shed more than once due to this kind of retribution, sometimes justly I suppose, though they should not have been looking to buy illegal drugs in the first place. Part of the attraction for the dealers is that the customers come around looking to buy, and if they want to get high bad enough, they take chances buying off of anyone that looks like the type to sell it to them.
The private property surrounding the shelter seems to these people to be fair game as places to go when they want to get high; they just trespass at will, going onto the property that I manage especially due to the fact that it is located directly across from the shelter.
They seem to feel that they have every right to be there and every right to use illicit drugs if they want too. I’ve been assaulted numerous times enforcing the owner’s private property rights, as is part of my duties as the building and property superintendent. These assaults range in intensity from verbal and physical threats to actual assault & battery.
I’ve been hospitalized several times due to these over the 7 years that I have been responsible for the property, and the police seem not to care, in fact they sometimes try to prosecute me, for doing my job as I see fit. My tenants should not have to walk out in the street, due to the sidewalks being lined top to bottom with people loafing around with nothing to do otherwise.
I’m an advocate of recovery from alcoholism and drug abuse, and have been associated with a program of recovery for the last 28 plus years, in fact I’ll celebrate my 29th year on the 22nd of December, if I live that long that is. You can probably guess which one, but my program shuns publicity so I won’t mention the name here in this article.
The residents of this area have been suffering a long time, and most are tired of hearing nothing but excuses as to why it is still in operation at that location. I, myself have heard that the shelter was going to close ever since I moved in back in 1996. There is nothing but empty promises from every quarter, never any results.
Now at last there seems to be some hope of fixing up 72 Jacques Avenue to house some of these people, but what are the chances they will approve the funding for that, and finish the proposed renovation that they are saying is needed, to the tune of 1.5 million dollars on the taxpayer’s dime. Before the winter sets in? That was the excuse they used last year, the winter was coming on, and these poor unfortunates had no place to go. I do have pity for the truly desperate that are in that condition through no fault of their own, but I have no sympathy for those that are homeless due to them spending all their funds on drugs or alcohol, then whining that they don’t have a place to go, and those that get their ass kicked out of places for uncivilized behavior while intoxicated.
The people need to be held accountable for their actions, and if they are guilty of being an idiot, they deserve what they get. Perhaps they will think twice the next time about acting out as they do.
My father had lots of sayings that were appropriate to these circumstances, like “You made your bed, now lie in it.” And “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” Along with many other sayings that were drilled into me to prepare me for the future. I had the benefit of learning by my own mistakes as well, so do these people.
These people are ignorant of the laws of civilized behavior, they are often rude and surly towards residents who are going about their legal and lawful business, and don’t need the hassle of being accosted daily with requests for a cigarette, some spare change, or any of a number of other requests that are sometimes demanding in nature, and if you don’t give what is asked for, there can be trouble in it for you.
These people are quick to point out that they have rights, and think they have the right to act like an idiot if they want, when they want, which seems to be most of the time. They do not have the right to hassle other people, and stagger around in an intoxicated condition, the last I knew public drunkenness, and drinking in public were still on the books as a crime, how come they seem to be able to get away with it on a daily basis?
I wish that the police would take some action against these morons, instead of acting on the behalf of these people by enabling them to continue with the depraved indifference they show for the rules of our civilization. It has been my own experience that the criminal gets revolving door justice, while the average working stiff gets charged with the crimes.
I’ve been charged with assault & battery twice, faced trial once in those cases, and both times, I was the one who got attacked, defended myself, and then faced criminal prosecution, while my assailant went free. I was able to defend myself through the aid of a lawyer, once at the owner of the building’s expense, and another with a court appointed lawyer who actually did an excellent job, and made it possible for me to stay out of jail for 2 1/2 years, which is what they wanted to give me for nothing other than defending my life against a knife wielding attacker, which was the case both times, and our gallant police actually charged me in both instances of being attacked by an armed person.
I was arrested the first time, and spent 17 days in Bridgewater State Prison getting a psychological evaluation, because they thought I was nuts for what they say was me attacking the drunk woman who charged at me with a butcher knife in her upraised hand. I simply knocked the knife out of her hand, and the resulting bruise was what the police used as an excuse to deprive me of my liberty.
I beat the case, and the psychological evaluation went my way as well, I was judged to be competent to stand trial on the assault & battery charge. The entire episode cost me, emotionally, physically, and mentally. You have no idea of what it is like to be falsely accused of a crime you did not commit, and then have no one believe you when you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.
I wanted to leave the building, and the state for that matter after that, but I decided that I would make a stand for what I believed in, and stay there, as it was not I who was the problem, it was the drunks who caused all the trouble back then in 1999, when Mr. Paul Berger owned the building. I’m stubborn, and I also make stupid decisions once in a while, like we all do from time to time, I can’t help but wonder how my life would be today had I left the area then, now it is 11 years later, and I’m still there.
The other time I was attacked happened in February of 2004, 8 months after I had started working as the building superintendent, and that one was male, also the last remaining hold out that would not leave the building upon repeated requests. As long as people pay their rent, it is very hard for a landlord to get rid of them, even if you know they are dealing in drugs and stolen goods, it is very hard to evict them, and restore peace to the building.
These were not the only times I was attacked, there are several other incidents, but these two stand out, because I was falsely charged with a crime in both cases by police who should have known better based on my own reputation, and the fact that one was a drunk in a stupor, and the other one was obviously a drug dealer with evidence of it out in plain sight in his room when they came in answer to my call. It is strange that in both cases, I’m the one who called for assistance, and had to face charges as a result, and the drug dealer got off scot free for attacking me with a carving knife, let alone the drug evidence out in plain sight. The drunk woman never had to face charges of attempted murder which is what I believe was her intention when she came at me with the very large butcher knife, intending to plunge it into my chest.