Friday, November 02, 2007

Park Slope's Homeless Trio Gone from Old First

The three homeless men who had made the steps of Old First Church on Park Slope's Seventh Avenue their home have been removed by police from the 78th Precinct and, for the time being, are no longer there. Rev. Daniel Meeter, the pastor of Old First Reformed Presbyterian Church, who has written very eloquently about the issue of the trio and their behavior, delivered the news at a meeting of the Park Slope Civic Council last night.

The police were called after one or more of the homeless residents--named Robert, Will and Frank--are said to have exposed themselves to children while they were urinating and were found to have a steel bar that could be used as a weapon. "The homeless men are no longer on our stoop," Rev. Meeter said.

He acknowledged that the church has been walking "a tightrope between the sanctuary needs of the homeless" and "the needs of our community for a safe, pleasant, respectful neighborhood." Rev. Meeter noted, as he had written, that the men had been asked to leave over the summer as drinking and drug use escalated and community complaints intensified but that "they beat us" and could not be dislodged.

The commander of the 78th Precinct met with Rev. Meeter on Tuesday, October 23. The men have been gone from the steps of the church since that day. Rev. Meeter said that one of the men is working at the Key Food across the street and staying with a relative on Third Street, one is staying on Sterling Place and one had "moved to a stoop further down Seventh Avenue."

A representative from the Congregation Beth Elohim was also on hand, and the groups agreed to set up a committee to consider how to deal with issues of homeless and trying to secure shelter and other assistance for those who want it. Rev. Meeter asked trustees of the Civic Council a version of a recurring question about the homeless and their behavior: "How can we make this an ethical community that deals well with the homeless poor who are sometimes nasty and destructive?...Do we just throw up our hands and say there is nothing we can do?"

[Photo courtesy Wally G/flickr]



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure Jesus would have really approved of them stealing from homeless people.

What freaking hypocrites. They profess to believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, but when it comes down to it they just do the most convenient thing...they call the cops and want the state to do their dirty work. How like the Pharisees.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you read the minister's blog? The three men were not merely vagrants, sleeping on the church steps. They were verbally, profanely abusive to passersby, constantly left food trash around the church even after being asked repeatedly not to, exposed themselves, and openly did drugs. The minister had repeated conversations with the men - no changes in their behavior. This has been going on for months. How are you supposed to respond when someone takes advantage of the sanctuary of a church site by trashing it? I applaud the minister's restraint and hope the man who is now working at a nearby business can get himself together.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Helix, I'm sorry, that's not the whole story. We were giving them sancuary, clothing, and food for about a year.

We have many small children who use our building everyday, and we have legal responsibilities to them.

I know, it stinks. What to do.

Dear Mr. Gowanus Lounge:
An excellent summary, thank you.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Marlene McGarrity said...

Of course no one wants to hear that they were placed in jail because they are obviously mentally sick as well. But there are children in the area and there are better places that these men could be cared for.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must go away, because I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you did not invite me into your home. I was without clothes, and you gave me nothing to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you did not care for me.' "Then those people will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty? When did we see you alone and away from home? Or when did we see you without clothes or sick or in prison? When did we see these things and not help you?' "Then the king will answer, 'I tell you the truth. Anything you refused to do for any of my people here, you refused to do for me.'

9:12 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I'm sure hellx will be happy to take them in. Right, hellx?

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was very struck by the pastor's writings on this subject; and his thoughtfulness and commitment to finding a solution for his church, the community and these men.

Had the pastor chosen to have these men stay, I believe people like Helix would be questioning that judgment as well. We live in a time where many seem eager to point fingers of blame so quickly at others...

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason that I'm upset is that this church is a tax-exempt organization but it expects the state to step in to do its dirty work in a direct violation of the teachings of their holy book.

Try to justify your actions any way you want, but as long as the pastor still has a shirt on his back, I think that Jesus would have said, "you have not done enough."

2:51 PM  

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