Re: Gina Alexia's Oct. 12 letter, “Panhandlers a Real Problem” [“Postmarks
”]: While her case may seem, to some, oversimplified, it put me in mind of an event I witnessed three years ago.
Waiting for my car to be serviced at a shop on the intersection of McNeil Road and 183, I watched three apparently homeless people engaged in a poorly concealed transaction at the bus stop, on the street
. This transaction degenerated into a savage, two-on-one beating of the third person, a woman. As I realized this was more than a shoving match, I ran to intervene, pressing “9” on my phone. The two attackers kept me back, however, brandishing the pallet slats they'd used on their victim. Long before police arrived, needless to say, all three of them vanished.
Seemingly when soliciting handouts, many homeless don their metaphorical tinfoil hats and stick their hands in their shirts to assure us that, “Hey, we're harmless and helpless victims of society that can only benefit from your donation.” However, I'm not the only one who's seen the cunning, calculating, remorseless behavior exhibited by pathological criminals, whether they've an address or not. We, the average citizens, should not be expected to have to screen out the “acceptable” behavior of our city's homeless population.
I believe rehabilitation is
possible; seeking to achieve it one stoplight at a time is not. (Enforced shelter? Maybe too
severe?) Either way, I'm predisposed to considering the safety of those who work for a living before
worrying about the needs of those who don't