Late last year, we published a story about a guy known as "Raven," a mentally ill man who had been living for more than a year in a central Phoenix park.
The piece described how several of Raven's "neighbors," folks who live in the area around the big park, had gotten to know the usually friendly middle-aged man and helped him out with food, water and companionship.
Sadly, not a happy ending to this story. (Photographic hint to the left, i.e. an angry mob).
Several of Raven's neighbors E-mailed us an anonymous flyer they say was stuck on the front doors of their homes a few days ago.
The "headline" on the flyer said, "ATTENTION RANCHO VENTURA AND BAR C RANCH RESIDENTS."
It began, "Many residents have become very concerned about the behavior of the homeless man who has occupied the SE corner of our neighborhood park, Pierce Park, for the past four years."
The anonymous writer (gutless is a synonym for anonymous in this instance) wrote that Raven (outing him by his real name) "recently" had been discovered drunk in the park with his pants down "one-half block from Griffith Elementary School."
A "compassionate" park ranger is said to have offered to divert Raven into a drug-and-alcohol treatment center instead of the criminal-justice system, but the New York native apparently refused.
"Because LOCAL RESIDENTS FEED HIM, GIVE HIM MONEY AND ARE `ENABLING' him (in the words of police), Raven returned to the park and was again arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for yelling obscenities at parents and children while intoxicated.
"Police confirmed he was so drunk, he was deemed unfit to house in the general inmate population and he returned to Pierce Park. Again, it was residents who provided him with the money he used to buy the alcohol.
The screed (we haven't confirmed any of the allegations yet) continues, issuing a serious warning any neighbor who continues to "enable" this man "who defacates on our properties, threatens our children, and made us fearful in our homes... "We are informed that civil litigation against persons enabling him may be an option."
Yup, a lawsuit.
Next comes a creepy Big Brother touch, claiming that "residents" around the park have set up video cameras, and will be taking down the license plates of anyone who makes contact in the public park with Raven.
"Romanticizing his condition with write-ups in the paper does nothing to address the harm he has done to himself and others," the flyer concludes, after noting (correctly) that Raven needs mental-health help and involuntary commitment for treatment. (Folks, do your homework on Arizona's mental-health system if you actually believe in the magic-wand theory.)
Like we said, not everyone in the neighborhood is on the same page as the anonymous bomb-thrower(s). We have received seven E-mails and/or calls from the "residents," all of them pissed at the way this is being handled.
"Thank you for your article regarding Raven," one man (who signed his name) wrote. "Unfortunately, some of the lesser humane people in our neighborhood have taken exception to Raven and placed at everyone's door a letter regarding Raven. I am in disagreement with the contents of the letter and despise the anonymous nature in which it was handled.
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"I will continue to 'enable' Raven, although sadly, his can and belongings have been absent the last few days and I have not seen Raven since this weekend. I do hope all is well and I wanted to bring to your attention the neighborhood Raven `warning we all received."
We will report back on this one.
And this word to whoever wrote and distributed the flyer: Give us a call at 602-229-8433 if you have the cojones.
Ask for Paul.