By Richard Clements
About 8 years ago two women and a 7-year old boy appeared, from a yet to be determined place, in Havre de Grace. At first they were seen as just moving in slo-mo from place to place. I saw them many times and simply thought them to be a few old ladies doing their daily slow motion ritual. I was not aware of the details. I was not aware that they were sleeping on the bench in the police station. I was not aware that they were sleeping in the post office. I was not aware that they were sleeping behind stores.
At some point Social Services got involved and removed the boy from the situation as he was not attending school and the parent was not “providing” for him. At some point they left the police station. At some point the post office asked them to leave.
One day about 3 years or so ago…as in the scene from Forest Gump, where after running for a year or two, he simply stops…the invisible women simply stopped moving. They stopped moving 200 feet from the mayor’s yard…300 feet from my yard and seem to be the gate keepers of our one access street.
Here is what’s known about them:
– They are on the corner. They are a mother and daughter. There are a lot of unverifiable stories circulating about them.
– They are not pan-handlers.
– A source in the Havre de Grace Police department has told me that there is an ambiguous account of some type of estate dispute involving them…the women won’t discuss it. The same reputable source told me that the police department doesn’t actually know who they are and they have never produced I.D.
– They are selective as to who they will take assistance from.
In the last year they have taken to displaying signs and standing on the corner of Route 40 and Otsego Street. I have attempted to speak to them only to be met with a stare.
Sadly these women seem to have become part of the scenery and are now as invisible as an individual tree passed on the highway. Everyone seems to have a reason that they are OK where they are. No one considers that standing motionless for three years is not the best indicator of mental health and should be dealt with.
Do we just let them stand there until one of them falls over dead?
UPDATED August 19, 2008:
By Richard Clements
During citizen comments near the end of last nights council meeting I confronted the mayor of Havre de Grace, Wayne Dougherty, as to the lack of progress after over a year in office. When the mayor took office a stock answer of “we are working on it” was given yet over a year later these women still languish in exactly the same spot. My question last night was simple “what humane answer to their plight is being sought?” I explained to the mayor that we had enough ordinances, even locally, to push for a humain entry into the system for these two distressed people.
Mayor Dougherty, after a comment about his chagrin over being blindsided by me, stated, to my utter disgust, that the best he could come up with was passing the buck to the state DOT and asking that they simply pile the women’s stuff into a truck and haul it away using a new rule about memorials at the roadside. The rational behind this is apperantly a comment made directly to the mayor that the Rosa Parks sign is a memorial as stated by the mother. Aside from a plethera of legal issues, and showing the cold heartedness of the administration, an action of this nature only moves the problem and further hurts these women.
The mayor has not exhausted his resources, yet he wants to pass the buck, like Pilot, to the state. If mayor Dougherty would use the city attorney for other uses than talking to me in circles for 2 hours a day, over his marina scam, thinking hes avoiding the unavoidable we might actually make some progress on this very unique issue. If the city attorney was used to move these people into a mental health oriented direction we would possibly eliminate the problem.