A recent article in the Press Democrat about Branch Wroth's Taser death by Rohnert Park police officers caused me to tremble with a mixture of anger and sadness. As I delved further into the article, my head began to spin as a plethora of potential remedies for peaceful resolution flooded my mind. Here's a partial list: summon the mental-health crisis unit (which, we recently were informed by a separate article, serves the Highway 101 corridor); call an ambulance; buy him a new pair of pants (he thought his were poisoned); offer to get him a blanket; wait him out.
One fact that must be highlighted above all others is that Wroth was inside a motel room and wasn't posing an immediate threat to anyone. But he was experiencing a mental breakdown, for which he desperately needed professional help.
I will leave you with this question: Has the state's sanctity and respect for human life really degenerated to such a low point that expedience of process has become the preferred alternative to careful, compassionate and meticulous preservation of a human life?
What is happening in downtown Santa Rosa? We have an $11 million square, yet the surrounding streets are strewn with garbage, broken glass, cardboard boxes flattened from where the homeless slept or will be sleeping. I've had to walk around puke and human waste, and I honestly don't want to touch a thing downtown.
Seems insane that parking prices and hours increased, the meter maids issue hundreds of tickets per day, events at the square generate thousands of dollars, and you'd think Santa Rosa could afford a cleanup crew on a daily basis. I know I'm supposed to feel good about coming downtown, but I don't. Business owners should display more care outside of their doors.
Last Monday night, I attended the Sonoma County Rises Summit on Equity, Recovery & Resilience. While waiting for the auditorium doors to open, I had the opportunity to chat with a woman (whom I'll call Annie). She said that she has a nine-year-old daughter and has a full-time job. Despite the fact that she wishes she could afford to live in Sonoma County, she hasn't the means to do so—hence, her homelessness.
Annie has a support system in San Joaquin Valley, but the Sonoma County Court has ordered her to stay in Sonoma County because her daughter's father shares custody of their daughter. She has sought help from agencies throughout Sonoma County but is stuck: she can't afford to live here but has been ordered to stay here.
I shared Annie's story with a friend at the summit. I told him I felt guilty. He asked me if I felt guilty because I'm not homeless. Upon reflection, I said I felt guilty because I couldn't offer her any resources she hadn't already tried to help her get out of her dilemma.
I guess I'm confused. The word "equity" kept coming up in the summit.
Executive director, Friends Outside in Sonoma County
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