Rights, responsibilities and fear

I am torn on whether I should actually blog about this but I think speaking out is key and heaven forbid something goes terribly wrong and I end up sliced up like a piece of kielbasa, well the cops can start here.

I live in a small city (or town as I think of it in my mind) and for the most part it’s a pretty peaceful place, despite being a woman of color in Maine, for the most part I have had no issues…trust me, if I had, I would have jumped this ship eons ago. Yet small towns oops cities in Maine are not immune from reality and that means just like in my hometown you have a diverse array of people including people on the fringes. In my decade here, while we don’t have much as far as a street people, we did have an elderly homeless woman and we have a mentally ill man that pretty much everyone seems to know.

Late last year the good citizens banded together, to get the homeless woman off the street as she had deteriorated mentally to the point she was urinating on Main Street. Guess the sassy shop owners couldn’t have a homeless lady pissing in front of their shops, it’s bad for business. Local opinion was mixed on whether or not she should have been removed but in the end I am guessing it was probably best for her.

My problem however is the mentally ill man, I first ran across this fellow a few years ago, while going to pick up the kiddo from school when he ran up to me and called me Michelle Obama. I pretty much guessed right away that he suffered from some form of mental illness and while he had a piercing glare I didn’t make much of it. In my previous work in Chicago I worked with many individuals suffering with mental illness, I am not a trained clinician but I have taken many classes and workshops on how to work with severely mentally ill individuals. I have met many good people over the years that often when medicated and treated were a pleasure to be around. For the most part I have never feared anyone with mental illness even clients with severe schizophrenia, I don’t say this to pat myself on the back it’s simply my truth.

However the local mentally ill man is scary, he has a history of intimidating people, has been arrested before for offenses such as disorderly conduct, local businesses have even had to get restraining orders against him, including a childcare facility. Sadly a few years ago he was falsely accused of trying to snatch a child which while horrible after my most recent run-ins with this fellow I sympathize with the parents who made the false report though clearly that is not something I would do.

So what does this man do? He follows me  when he sees me, ever since our first encounter a few years ago whenever he sees me, he immediately fixates on me to the point it is uncomfortable. I have been in the car and had this man come up to the side window while on his bike in traffic and just stare at me. Thankfully the man was driving otherwise with my anxiety that would be real bad. This man rides his bike all over town, yelling at people, going into traffic, circling cars that are at lights and basically being a nuisance.

Last night though as we wrapped up our Father’s Day meal at a local eatery and were walking to our car, a truck passed us and stopped a few feet away from us. I initially thought nothing of it until I realized I felt someone staring at me. Somehow this man had gotten access to a car, and I will be honest my heart stopped. I hurried the family into the car, hurriedly telling the man, that the driver in that truck was the man. The man stayed inches from our car for a good 5 minutes leering at me before he finally drove off.

As someone who often walks, I have already altered my walking routes to avoid this guy, yet now I am seeing him on my new routes and I am scared. Last night I put the call out on my personal Facebook page and several local pals shared that they too have had encounters with him. One had to contact the police after he followed her while she was out walking her dog. Local rumor has it he was nice a guy at one point before the mental illness took over and apparently he tends not to take his medicine which frankly isn’t that uncommon among individuals with severe mental illness.

Now I plan on heading over to the police station today to discuss this, but I admit in light of his known history in this town, I am not too confident in the abilities of the cops. Since he is a known entity yet because he rarely breaks the law the cops are on record a few years ago and saying there is not a lot they can do.

Yet that makes me wonder, is mental illness an excuse for disturbing the peace of others? This man lives with his mother and while he is indeed a grown man doesn’t his family have some responsibility to insure that he stays safe and isn’t out harassing people no matter how seemingly benign?

So that’s what’s ups in BGIM land…happy Monday to me. Not.

5 Comments
  1. June 18, 2012
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