Letters to the Editor

Vagrants are humans

A few years ago, as I walked to get groceries, I passed a man in his 50s pushing a shopping cart. He was disheveled with a long gray beard and hair; he smelled strongly of alcohol and he muttered to himself.

I tried to avoid him, but he told me that he was in jail when his wife got sick, and he wasn’t allowed to see her. He looked at me and said, “I didn’t get to hold her hand when she died.” A few paces later, he said that now all he cares about is staying drunk. He nodded goodbye and pulled his cart off the sidewalk to rest.

But, nothing in Council Member Clint Olivier’s recent commentary, “Six ways to battle Fresno’s destructive vagrants,” suggests the existence of the man I met, or of any person one might meet, talk to or work with to make our city better.

He refers to a whole population only as a destructive force to be met with an opposing force. I’ve seen the vagrants he writes of, but only from a distance. When I speak with them, they turn out to be human.

Heather Balcom, Fresno