So I was in Skid Row walking a foot beat and I was anxious to get out there due to working special events and meetings. I missed being around the people, so I grabbed some fliers with a list of programs for the homeless and headed out.
As I exited the station onto sixth street and before I could make it to the corner, I see an officer in foot pursuit of a suspect. Instinctively I ran flank to the suspect and called to him to stop. He looked at me, he recognized me and immediately stopped and laid on the ground. He was take into custody without incident (community policing works folks).
I gathered my fliers and started to head east towards San Julian. As I walked past a blue tent I heard a woman yelling for help. I threw down my fliers and responded to the tent. I removed the tarp that was blocking the screen and saw a naked woman crouched upright in fetal position inside with a man who covered himself with a blanket. I had the woman come out. I then ordered the man out and detained him without incident. Once he was secured I tried to talk to the woman who was so severely mentally ill, that she could not even tell me what happened. As he babbled incoherently, I tried everything I could, even getting a female officer to try to calm her down so I could help her.
As the female officer was trying to help, an idiot who probably spends too much time on Shaun King’s page and kept taunting me because he felt I was racist for handcuffing a black man because the woman who was in the tent with him was white (she wasn’t and it didn’t matter), he even accused me of setting him up because he was black. I confronted him about his bullshit. He continued to rant that the woman was crazy and is always naked. Based on that he thought it was all her fault and that she could not be a victim.
I have grown so tired of people who believe that because a woman is mentally ill or on drugs, that somehow she is less of a victim. It infuriates me when I hear that, because I know that they make perfect victims. I catch myself and go back to the woman who refused to put her clothes on and was now throwing herself into a roll up door. Sadly, because she was so out other mind, we were not able to determine what happened to her. I had to release the man.
As I walk over to unhand-cuff him he said “why y’all got a Black man like me handcuffed and humiliated? How you just gonna harass me for no reason?” Before he could say another stupid thing I interrupted him. “Bro, ain’t nobody harassing you. Put yourself in my shoes for a sec. You are a cop, you walk past a tent and hear a woman screaming for help. What Ould you do?” He looked at me humbled and said “Umm, I guess I’d have done the same thing.” I had no choice but to release him. My focus now was getting the woman some help. We took her to the station to have her evaluated. It wasn’t her first time. She is known by officers and residents alike to walk around nude in on of the most dangerous places in the nation. But as it was initially explained to me, she did not meet the requirements for help. If it wasn’t for her throwing herself against the door and trying to bang her head, I would have had to release her. I took her to the hospital. There I was told (for the millionth time over 20 years) that she would be given a shot and released back into the street in a few hours.
So much failure in a short amount of time. What the system and ignorant people showed me once again, is the following:
The system won’t protect the most vulnerable no matter how hard we try.
Chauvinistic mindsets are evil
Social Justice rhetoric is poisoning the minds of black people
The people believe that mentally ill people and drug addicts are not worthy of justice
Skid Row in its current state is a health and safety issue for women, men and the mentally ill. If I can’t see them getting hurt in a tent, I cannot save them in most cases.
I’m sick of it all. I’m not going to stop caring, I’m not going to stop fighting. I’m not going to stop speaking out. One day someone will hear me.