May 18 2012

Attacked and beaten


About an hour after being beaten up

I was attacked in the lobby of the building where I live 3 weeks ago, at 7:30 pm Saturday, April 28, 2012.

I was returning from the store with a quart of ice tea.

As I was in the vestibule I saw a party of 6-8 people coming out of The Palomar restaurant heading for me, and stopped in my tracks when I realized they intended to crowd the entire vestibule.

While I was standing still, one of them, a woman, walked into me.  So I asked her if she was raised in a barn, and she laughed.

I proceeded to the elevator and just as I pushed the call button, one of the men in the group rushed back into the lobby and screamed, “YOU were raised in a barn.”  So I walked back to the door and yelled, “You’re the one that walked into me,” and returned to wait for the elevator.

The next thing I knew I had been knocked down by a punch in the face and the guy was kicking me in the side.

As I was trying to get a photo with my cell phone, a woman asked me if I’d like her to call 911, if I could call it with my phone.  All I could say is that I didn’t know.  I didn’t have my reading glasses on and couldn’t see what I was doing on the cell phone.

The fact is I didn’t get a good look at those people, not the one that beat me up, nor any of them.  All I remember is a group of middle-aged middle-class people, most of whom were shorter than me.  They were most definitely not the poor and homeless that Santa Cruz loves to scapegoat for everything.

I must have managed to dial 911 because there was a message from them time stamped 7:40 pm.

The paramedics and the police showed up shortly.  Evidently I had bled quite a bit from a couple of gashes in my cheek.  I recall one of the paramedics said I would probably need a couple of stitches, though from the tone of his voice I could deduce he didn’t think I was seriously injured.

I remember telling them my cheek, my upper jaw, was totally numb.

I know the first thing I said when the woman offered to dial 911 was, “all the police in this town hate me, they’ll just try to put me in jail.”  Besides the obvious reason, I also wanted to know who, if anyone, saw what happened – from beginning to end – and if they would be willing to testify.

When they asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital my first thought was the cost, and the fact that my only health insurance is MediCare/MediCal – which probably meant that it would cost me a least a couple of thousand.

It was about this time that Don Lane, currently the mayor, stepped forward and stated he saw what happened and had followed the guy up the street where they had gone into another business, and could identify him.  He stated there was a victims assistance program, implying it would pay for the ambulance and the emergency room.

At this point what had happened, and what was happening, began to sink in.  It was also about this time one of the paramedics asked me if I was on any medications, to which I replied that I was a medical marijuana patient, bi-polar, and also diabetic.  And that I needed to get my medicine.  And I realized what I really needed more than anything else right then was to smoke a joint, and a cigarette, both of which are illegal on the street in front of my building, where we were standing.

(A couple of weeks later I realized the restaurant puts out chairs in the lobby for people waiting for a table, but instead of offering me a chair in the lobby, they had me standing on the sidewalk.)

When I mentioned getting my medicine, my marijuana, the  policeman told me I couldn’t have it there, nor at the hospital.  Well, that was the last straw.   There was no way I could deal with hours and hours at the hospital and making a police report without my medicine.  Especially when the policeman is already telling me to ‘calm down’.  And I would probably end up stranded at the hospital in the middle of the night.

I told them they could take their health care and shove it, took the elevator up to my room, and smoked a bowl.  And then I smoked another.

The injuries are all but healed now.  It was my side, where I was kicked, that caused me the most discomfort for the longest.  One of my teeth was numb for nearly two weeks.  There were maybe half a dozen cuts inside my cheek where the clip on my partial, and the edges of my teeth cut the skin.  My cheek is still swollen.

I’m usually the person that steps out of the crowd and does something during an emergency or crisis:  create a diversion, call the police, take a video, whatever.  But not this time, and the more I think about it the more comfortable I am with that decision.

You see, Don Lane is the person most responsible for making my life a living hell over the past 6 or so years I’ve lived in Santa Cruz.  He was on the board of directors of the homeless services when I was evicted by my roommate for being a medical marijuana patient.  He, along with Katherine Biers voted to ban me from emergency and transitional housing because I was a medical marijuana patient.  So I was homeless for 3 years while running up an astronomical debt staying in motels a couple of days a week – because that’s what I had to do to survive.

And he is the person most responsible for draconian prohibition on smoking anything anywhere in Santa Cruz with the result that I can’t sit outside anywhere and smoke a cigarette, much less a joint.  Not in the parks, not at the beach, not on the sidewalk in front of my building, not on the levee, not anywhere.  So I never go out.  I have no social life, no friends, no life to speak of.  In fact, the day after I became housed, I was arrested and jailed for smoking a joint in a public plaza behind the building where I live.

Being beaten up is nothing compared to the isolation, harassment, and persecution I have encountered for years on a daily basis in this town.  The last thing I want to see is a front page article in The Sentinel about Don Lane coming to my rescue.

Since this happened, a business owner was stabbed and killed a few blocks from here by a ‘transient’, and the local bullies who hate the poor and homeless have been calling for the heads of Don Lane and Katherine Biers.  And that’s just fine by me.

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