Should you be on the street, in a shelter, or in a transitional house, you are, “technically”, Homeless. One well-known fact is that the law is part of your life. This could be a good thing or a bad thing. These 2 posts are dedicated to the police officers who have it in their hearts to understand The Homeless. The posts are in 2 parts; post 1 – The Rain Nor’ester and post 2 – Rescued from Sub-Zero Wind Chill. The officers listened and took action. Their decisions, maybe, saved a life and helped a homeless man who had been wronged by organizations funded to help!
An Objective Question: Brian, you were white, had all your teeth, and you spoke good English. Where you treated differently by the police because of this?
The answer: As in any area you have to consider the demographics. Within the 128 belt of Massachusetts, there are a great majority of mixed races and cultures. When I was within the 128 belt, the cops did not care but race could have been a factor. Quincy is mostly white and tough, so race meant nothing; in my opinion. Outside the 128 belt, objectivity is town by town. Either way, the police saw a wrong and made it right. All the others in the 2 shelters of Blog 1 and 2, would have been treated the same. Now the store owners in the area hated us. Justifiably, because some street people smelled, swore in front of kids, were rude, and pushed customers away. The background check they ran on me (no problems) and the suit case was a factor.
Note: The reality of being on the street is that the daily objective is staying alive. I had not been using alcohol or drugs and in my mind, I was in control. I was just trying to get through the night without getting sick, beat up, robbed, or arrested. The events are true and comments are taken directly from the police reports.
In this post, the Police officer’s options were:
- Send me to the hospital to have my head stitched and arrest me for homelessness.
- Send me to the hospital to have my head stitched and then “do what they did, which would make anyone cheer”.
Episode Two: In January of 2015, I had no housing alternatives available to me, so I turned to shelters south of the City of Boston. I called Tom’s, located in a city south of Boston Ma and they had space available. Mike Garrison drove me to Tom’s for the Shelter Intake and Acceptance. Once I was given a thumbs up, Mike left for home.
Note: When you are accepted into a shelter in Massachusetts, each individual has to go by the rules. One standard rule is that the homeless must leave the shelter by 8 am and must return at 7 pm. If you are late, you lose the bed or mat. This varies from shelter to shelter.
Mike Garrison, my friend, had given me some pocket money for food, so I went to McDonald’s 2 blocks from the shelter. When I returned to the shelter the entrance was locked. I knocked on the front door and a staff member came and yelled through the glass that it was after curfew. By the time I yelled back that I had no where to stay, he was walking away.
What to do? With nowhere to go, I wandered the area for bushes or trees to sleep behind. The ocean winds were coming west and the force of the wind sent the temperature below zero. On top of that, I was dressed for warmer weather.
I wandered into an area that had a pickup truck. Since the back was empty, I thought it might cut the wind down enough to sleep. At that point, a few men approached with only one intent, my suitcase and money. After throwing the bag in the truck and a short fight, I was down but they were gone. I retrieved the suitcase, and while leaving the truck, three patrol cars pulled around the truck, my bag, my broken glasses, the gash on my forehead, and me.
While I searched for the lens from my glasses, blood fell on my hands, frames, sneakers, and jeans. The officer’s report states, “Fallon Notified, By the Pumps, Transport to QH. Person(s), Brian Masters, Homeless.
The Hospital: While having my head stitched, the officers asked why I was wandering around, at night, in the dark, in the cold, and with a suitcase? I told the officers of being accepted and then locked out of the shelter. The officer went away for a short while and came back after the ER physician finished stitching me up.
Action taken: The officer informed me that I would be transported to the shelter and not to be concerned. When I arrived at the shelter door, a staff member signed a document and escorted me to the cafeteria where a mat and blanket were waiting among scores of others homeless individuals.
Epilogue: I can only guess what was said by the policeman to the shelter personnel. I do know that the police made sure a homeless man, who could have had far worse consequences, was taken care of. Compassion, duty, experience, training, or all of the above? It did not matter; it was done.
Hats off to those men and women, January, 13th and 14th, 2015.
Oh, I have nicknamed the scar on my forehead, Captain Hook, since it is in the shape of a hook. What better when awarded in a ship city-Arrr.