With a barrage of water balloons being launched last Wednesday at the homeless/transient gathering at the James Demuling Memorial Veterans’ Grove from a residence above and behind the bookstore, the conflict that has been brewing took a wild turn. An employee of the laundromat, Rebecca McFarland, says that last week she came to work to find folk at the park throwing apples and rocks at what she thought was her car and her business. A van of German tourists, she says, were upset and concerned that somehow their presence was causing the attack. According to McFarland, the tourists had planned to spend some time in town but left hastily. The attack she says was not on them or on her however but in retaliation for a continuing hail of water balloons thrown by some sort launcher from above. Insults were hurled from the folk above to the “dirty homeless” below and insults were returned and so were rocks and apples at the “stupid rednecks” above. The bare chested man on the rock braved stinging assaults to hurl his own replies. Finally the sheriff called a time out and sent the bad boys to their respective corners.
The park, McFarland says, is often hung with hammocks. At the time this photo was taken there were three in the small area. To her, it’s “a lot like putting up a tent. It makes the place look even worse.” She says she was recently cited for making out in her car on the river bed. Why, she wonders, is one thing wrong and not the other?
Gatherings of transients/homeless/outlying residents at the park are frequent. This picture by Rebecca McFarland was taken of what she says was a group of inebriated folk. She says one of them chased her demanding that she delete the photos in her camera and that only her assertion that they had already been sent to the sheriff caused him to back off.
Some of the incidents in themselves are humorous (I confess to laughing so hard at Rebecca’s description of the balloon wars that I nearly cried) but the recent stabbing and the serious need for some sort of public restroom make this area a subject we have deal with soberly. We need to figure out how to make this park work for all of us—business folk, transients, homeless, vacationers, and residents.