The Norman Transcript

Columns

September 25, 2012

Anatomy of an outrage about man’s death

(Continued)

NORMAN —

I asked him, “What are you doing here?”

“I’m freezing!” he replied.

“I’ll bet ... Let’s go to Food and Shelter,” I suggested, and he immediately followed me back.

Mike was in the same shape as G when I brought him in to Food and Shelter, shivering with red swollen hands and feet, but Mike was a little more robust. I gave him a change of clothes and a blanket that he wore the rest of the day.

Many of the homeless in Norman are like Mike in that they often will “camp out” around Food and Shelter, as they have nowhere else to go. Some stay at “Tent City” along the Canadian River, just west of Interstate 35. Unfortunately, Food and Shelter is not equipped to handle 24-hour care, although an attempt was made for a couple of months early this year when “Tent City” burned down.

The businesses in the vicinity of Food and Shelter are very tolerant and understanding of the homeless situation and support the homeless as best they can. The police do not disturb the homeless in the vicinity of Food and Shelter and only come by when necessary to offer medical assistance, keep the peace or serve bench warrants.

Something must have happened in the period of time before Mike’s death, as I heard the city of Norman was threatening to levy fines on the businesses surrounding Food and Shelter if they didn’t get rid of signs of the homeless situation. As a result of this, the homeless were removed and their possessions discarded. Mike was one of those removed. He would normally hang out at Food and Shelter’s kitchen dock, but as a result of his removal, he took his meager possessions to “camp out” below the James Garner statue, located where the train tracks cross Main Street in Norman.

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