On Thursday evening, January 6, a young man who had received food from us complained to me about a bully who had harassed him in the line. He told me I should take care of this. I told him that I could not control the behavior of the people we serve. He told me I was responsible to provide a safe and pleasant place to be served. I told him that that was unreasonable as it is a public park and I am not the police. He insisted that I at least talk to this fellow. I stood next to the offender. He was fairly obviously drunk and not amenable to receiving advice. We got through the evening without any major incidents.
The next week, I was out sick with a cold, but I got a call about the same bully. He accosted each of the ladies as they pulled up with their vehicles looking for blankets or whatever he could get. He was told that we give away the blankets and clothes after we serve the food. He said he was not hanging around, so he was given a blanket in the hope that he would leave. He didn’t. He butted in line and grabbed a couple of care kits. Presvytera Joanna observed this, so, in the spirit of going the second mile, she asked if he had been given a care kit yet. He said No, so she gave him another one. This did not satisfy him. He continued to grab things and to harass those around him.
On the 20th, He showed up right as Todd, Joe and I arrived in the TKJ-mobile. He posed as if he wanted to help us unload. He took a bag of sandwiches. On his way over to the area where we serve, he started rooting through the bag. One of the other guys hollered at him. He threw the bag on the ground and shouted something about this is how it is done in prison, every man for himself. A couple of the guys who regularly help us hollered back that we are not in prison and shouldn’t act like it. At this point someone threw a punch. The bully who had come looking for a fight now three weeks in a row ended up on the ground being kicked in the side. The fellow doing the kicking stopped and let the bully get up and run away. From across the street, he used his cellphone and called the police. Two cars showed up very quickly. They asked some questions. They ended up taking the bully away. When they ran his name, it turns out he had bench warrants on him.
We found it strange that he would call the police, since the police would have to incarcerate him due to the bench warrants. We speculated that perhaps he was more comfortable in prison than on the street and was looking for a way back in. He would not be the first man I have met to do this. Thankfully no one got seriously hurt. One of the guys has a jammed thumb and a badly bruised foot. I did tell him that that was not the way I would handle it. He told me that he stepped in to the fight, because the first guy to tangle with this guy had a knife and lacks self restraint. He was trying to make sure things didn’t get out of hand.
Please pray for the safety of our team of volunteers and for all those whom we serve. Pray that we have good order, respect and courtesy, all around. “Safety is of the Lord.” [Proverbs 21:31]