My Take on Angela Hunt’s “Bums”

As Tim said, Twitter is pretty powerful. Take, for example, Angela Hunt’s weekend tweets about the “bums” in Main Street Garden. Based on what she had to say, it looks like some changes may be coming to Main Street Garden. But I do take issue with some of what’s being said about the homeless in the park.

I use the park every day. It’s where I met most of my friends. It’s where I take the dog for exercise. And, yeah, it’s where I run into some homeless. But I rarely find them aggressive. Most of the time, they’ll make a comment about the dog, and that’s it. Sometimes, I’ll engage them in conversation. (Some of the best conversations I’ve had occurred out there with homeless people.) And sometimes, but rarely, they ask me for money. But if I say I don’t have cash, they leave it at that. The only real problem that comes from them hanging out there is that they’ll leave chicken bones behind, which is really dangerous for the dogs. But I don’t avoid the park because of the homeless population.

I think my bigger complaint about the park is the parents who leave their kids unattended. My dog looks like a giant marshmallow. So I understand kids want to pet him. That’s fine. But when the kid starts pulling his tail and running after him and the other dogs, it’s time for the parents to step in. It’s not my job to discipline someone’s kid, but it is my job to make sure my dog is safe and that, in turn, the kid stays safe. One time, a little girl took my dog’s leash and ran around the park with him (with me in tow). We played for a while, then I asked where her parents were. She wasn’t sure. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve seen unattended children wandering the park at all hours. I’m more concerned about them than the homeless guy who’s getting some shade on a bench.

Main Street Garden is a wonderful place. I love it, and I love using it. Not everything that happens there is ideal. But I think it’ll be very difficult to tell someone he can’t sit on a bench because his clothes look a little dirty.

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Comments

  • downtown_worker

    I don’t mind seeing a few here and there, but it really bugs me when they litter. Like you said, it’s a beautiful place, but some of them have no respect for it. I don’t want to sit on discarded chicken bones and empty cans of Bud Ice.

  • Hannah

    I totally agree. I lived downtown last summer and quickly realized the homeless were some of the most responsible people using the park. I’m glad your dog is friendly because not all are. Parents should be aware of that and people should be less concerned about homeless people taking up bench space.

  • Amelia Earhart

    Good for Hunt. I have been aggressively panhandled more times than I can count. Eating at the cafe can be a hassle and/or disgusting experience when the bums/parasites spread out their junk on the tables/seats. More than a few times I have seen vomit or piss on the ground/tables. I doubt it is coming from the distracted moms. The city made a huge mistake in locating the Bridge downtown, however that ship has sailed and the focus must be on a crackdown via enforcement of the panhandling ordinance. To save on jail costs, one of the vacant buildings could be converted into a homeless drunk tank. Then they should be given a one-way bus ticket to SF.

  • downtown_worker

    Where is our new mayor and what does he plan to do about this? Having been the city’s homeless czar and park & rec board leader, he is more qualified for this than Angela Hunt and Mary Suhm. Where is Mayor Mike?

  • Buckeye

    Too many kids. Yep, that’s the problem. People with kids should be forced to move to the suburbs so downtown can remain full of people with dogs and homeless people. Sounds like a plan.

  • Patty

    My experiences with piss and vomit are lazy drunks (not bums) who are too drunk to find their cars to vomit and/or pee in.

  • Downtownist

    I’m troubled by the fact that she thought it was appropriate to put multiple pictures of “bums” up on Twitter for the world to see. What the hell, Angela? Although she tweet-defends herself by saying that she supported The Bridge, the fact that she took pictures of complete strangers and labeled them as “bums” for all her twitter followers to see makes her attitude toward the homeless crystal clear.

    As for her tweet, “Where is DPD?”– ugh. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen DPD harassing homeless people minding their own business downtown. Since when does sitting in a public park become a crime because you’re homeless?

    Re the homeless downtown, my experience over a number of years living down here is that they are polite and generally leave us home-having people alone. Yes, I get asked for money occasionally. I say I don’t carry cash, and that’s the end of it. I usually even get a “thank you – God bless” out of it. I use the park, and the homeless there don’t deter me from doing so.

  • Daniel

    I think all reasonable people can agree: Instead of sitting at Main Street Garden, homeless people should go sit somewhere else. But they should be forewarned that if Daniel D. Daniels sees them sitting, wherever it is they might sit, he will feel contempt! Yeah, you read that right, buddy!He will Twitter! He will blog! He will take eight-by-ten glossy photographs of the quote scene of the crime unquote! He will Twitter these photographs and perhaps send them to the local newspaper, pestering the editor by telephone to publish them!

    The thing that makles me most contemptuous is, don’t these bum “people” have anything better to do?

  • iluvD

    Bravo! Thank you Krista for writing this. It’s all too common in this society to pass even more condemnation off on those we’ve already marginalized enough. The homeless are like any other group who cannot be lumped into one heading. There are many life situations which bring someone to this status(mental illness, addiction, physical deficiencies) and any one of us could find ourselves there. Also, the homeless aren’t the ones terrorizing citizens…it’s usually the home-full(check the facts and see for yourself). Thanks once again!

  • sunnyB

    I’m really mixed about this. We also use the park pretty much every day, both for the dog park and the Lilypad. The park is a great place to congregate, and I’m much more bothered by the people who call to my dog and try to play with him or pet him without my asking than the homeless people around. But having a park overrun with homeless people can be an eyesore. Just last night there were roughly 20 people in the park, save for another couple, my dog and I were the only people who didn’t look like we were spending the night. It’s not politically correct, but it would be nice to be able to enjoy the park for the trees than the blight that is unwashed people with broken rolling bags. I frequently see people taking baths out of the water fountain — isn’t that the reason for a shelter? The park is certainly not the place. And I don’t even want to get started on the panhandling… Other large cities have figured this out. When we lived in Chicago, this was definitely less of a problem than it is here. Is this just another issue that Dallas overlooks (along with roads, sidewalks, quality of life) when it’s on the misguided path to be a world class city? Way to go Angela Hunt!

  • iluvD

    for tonight i’ll sleep on the cracked, jagged pavement,
    maybe an old mattress or pile of brush to lay my head on,
    getting a few winks if i’m lucky and the cops don’t accost me,
    I just might make it thru this night!
    so please say a prayer for us,
    the ones who the streets are called home,
    and with the grace which tops all our pates,
    might one day we find our kingdom come!

  • PacMan

    @Buckeye: Why so sensitive? She isn’t saying kids shouldn’t be in the park, only that parents should be responsible and not leave them unattended. My lady and I use the park regularly and this is a constant problem. There are even children running around in the dog run jumping up on the obstacles. This is at the very least unsanitary and quite unsafe for the children. As for families living downtown, there is plenty of room for everyone and I love seeing kids playing downtown at the park or pool. I agree with the author that they should be supervised by a responsible adult, and I would imagine this is also the case in the suburbs.

  • I was going to respond to Buckeye, but PacMan summed it up for me perfectly. I love seeing kids and families out there. It means downtown is growing. I would just like to see the parents keep an eye on their kids.

  • Michael Davis

    We all have to live together…and I agree with Patty and PacMan above.

    http://dallasprogress.blogspot.com/2011/07/bums-in-main-street-garden.html

  • mcks

    @sunnyb that is the reason for a shelter, however, the amount of shelter beds doesn’t account for 1/3 of the homeless people in dallas.

  • BrandonS

    @sunnyB: Try as they may, Chicago has not “figured it out”. Neither has NYC. They deal with it as best they can, but by no means have they “figured it out”.

    There is no permanent solution. As long as there are large urban centers, there will be homeless people. Many of them will seek the benefits of shelters, get cleaned up (both externally and internally) and will try to seek a better life. Others will languish in addiction and despair. We can only continue to provide the tools to recovery and discourage negative actions (giving in to panhandling, incarceration etc) and hope for a reduction of homeless people. But they will never completely go away and Ms. Hunt will have no choice but to coexist with them at Main Street Garden.

  • @PikerX

    I’m all about family time in the park but I don’t go places like these to babysit someone else’s child, which is what always happens. Without fail there will be some distracted turd of a parent typing at length with their thumbs while their little rugrat harasses everyone and their dogs. A lot of dog owners are just as bad. There is plenty of space for everyone to play. My dog would also like to play fetch. I don’t mind playing with other dogs and I’ll throw for them etc. But whenever you’re dog is constantly running away with someone else’s playthings, stop picking your nose and play with your dog. Don’t just let the nice guy that actually brought his dog a toy have to chase down your neglected, disobedient rat terrier or whatever it is you happened to find cute that week. so meh!

  • Donkeylove

    Just wait until a dog bites one of the unsupervised brats. The lazy parents would be all over that with a lawsuit.

  • Dmar

    The city should sell it and make it a “for profit” park..Voila, problem solved

  • 2Cents

    Hell, who’s to say those ‘bums’ aren’t some of Angie’s Oak Cliff biko-Hipster pals? Can YOU tell the difference??

  • Becca

    @Brandon S. Can’t speak about NYC, but Chicago has it definitely figured out better than Dallas. Mass transportation – check, better parks for kids, dogs and not so much for homeless people – check, better roads? – well, systematically they’re better, but I’ll give this one to Dallas because of the potholes in the Chi, better Arts & Culture – check. The only homeless people problem I’ve seen is on Lower Wacker Drive. (which everyone knows is a problem because once you get on Lower Wacker, you can never quite seem to figure out how to get off of it). I agree though that every metro area has it’s issues with the population of homeless people. Dallas, however, chooses to bury it’s head in the sand on these issues more often than not.

  • NotafanofMike

    Those of you asking, “Where’s Mike”, be careful what you wish for! Our homeless guru will just round them up and dump them in some housing project and leave them to their own devices! The housing authority was out of control under our friend Leppert- they are ruling the roost now. Hey Mike, how are the homeless in your neighborhood?

  • Steal is Real

    @Cents: The OC-ers are the ones opening businesses and contributing to the city.

  • David

    This whole conversation stems from each and everyone’s own personal experiences with Main Street Garden and the homeless. If your only experiences are panhandlers and vomit, you assuredly don’t have a great impression of the park. As a downtown resident I’ve seen the park full of homeless, full of families and completely devoid of people.

    Everyone has a right to the park. If the city sees the homeless congregation as a nuisance, reinforce panhandling and loitering ordinances. But at the same time we should also provide other options for all demographics. Homeless will inevitably congregate somewhere and residents should have more venues as well.

    Downtown is evolving so quickly right now and the city and everyone else are still learning how to operate a soon to be amazing downtown Dallas.

    (Also kids smell just like homeless sometimes).

  • Sammy

    I would really like to meet some of these intelligent, thought-provoking, coherent conversationalist bums that apparently every other downtown person seems to run into constantly, because that’s never been my experience. Having to say “I don’t have any money” or “NO!!!” every 20 feet as I walk to lunch downtown isn’t right.

    And to say that kids playing with your dog is just as annoying or even more annoying than having a bum throw up next to you or urinate in the corner while you are trying to eat is just ridiculous.

  • Dannah

    I volunteer with the homeless- it’s a bad situation but I do know people who have been able to turn their lives around. While I dislike panhandling I feel like posting pictures of them was a little rude. I mean they have a right to be outside. Also when I go to a park with the kids and dog I often have a big bag with me for snacks and stuff- sometimes I’m sure we look like her “bums” especially in the heat. lol They’re just people. Many of them are veterans. I know some who are mentally unstable who are in the system, doing the best they can, but unless you want them locked away which would require money we just have to coexist!

  • Poodle

    One thing we know for sure, Krista, is that the homeless at Main Street Garden are not food aggressive.

  • iluvD

    What thin skin all these strong Texans have…to be unable to tell a marginalized homeless person they have no change. I wonder what “aggressive” means to most? Maybe, throwing an expletive their way? OUCH! Must hurt to have to hear and see such vagaries within an urban environment. Might I suggest a few nice, quaint suburbs for you.

  • Doug

    Really Dallas? This is what you’ve come to? First you whine about people being happy John Wiley Price was finally being investigated and now you throw a fit because Angela Hunt called bums, bums? Why don’t you make a list of approved speech for us so we won’t offend your delicate sensibilities anymore.

  • Sport

    Just send some do-gooder christians out there to start trying to convert the poor homeless folks. That’ll run them off.

  • Downtownist

    @Sammy – I’d love to meet some of these people that apparently get accosted by the homeless “every 20 feet” as they walk to lunch downtown. I’m impressed with your ability to even make it to an eating establishment whilst braving the sea of unwashed, spare change-thirsty bums assailing you from all directions. I can only imagine it was like a scene from The Walking Dead and that you must wake up screaming from the nightmares every night.

  • dt business owner

    Where is DPD? Dallas police are busting their butt’s trying to deal with a situation that city council refuses to address. The Bridge. You have a facility that attracts criminals, homeless and people from all over the country with their open door policies and poor management and wonder why we have issues. The city of Dallas created this mess and doesn’t have the balls to fix it. I am sick of walking into my business establishment every day and smelling urine and feces. I can be inside with customers and see homeless urinating against the front door that I just walked inside. I am sick of it and the city of Dallas thinks this is okay? Who would want to live down here? Thank god for the police, now give them the authority to fix it city hall.

  • Delia

    Hooray for Angela for speaking the truth and not caring about being PC. I have lived downtown for over 20 years and am sick of them. Some I have been seeing for 10-15 years. Not been able to find a job in that time?

  • Caroline

    Thank you, Krista. You could not have said it better. The real problem here is that these individuals are without a place to go. The crime isn’t that they’re sleeping in the park (has anyone considered that perhaps they’re choosing this location over others because they perceive it to be safe or nice?), but that the system has failed them over and over. I am horrified by responses insinuating that these individuals don’t want to better their situations or find jobs. To those who were born with the privilege of a silver spoon, be thankful of where you come from. Not everyone is dealt the same hand of cards.