Monday, December 08, 2008

The Crack Addict Is a Person In Your Neighborhood

I have nothing against panhandling, or people who have to resort to less-than-conventional methods to earn a few bucks. (I'm going to attempt to cash in my empties to finance my Monday ritual of Gossip Girl and pizza.) But this Globe story about Mattapan panhandler Robbie Felder is kind of bizarre.

For the first half of the story, we're given the heartwarming tale of a man who wears clothes that are too big for him as he begs for money, but is well-loved by the community in which he panhandles.


Few [panhandle] like Felder. At 50 years old, he is ragged but well spoken, polite but introverted. His fingernails are grungy, but his graying beard is well-groomed. He is slightly bent over as he shuffles his feet from car to car, his arms limp by his side.

"No one ever complains about Robbie; he's just a fixture," said Captain James M. Claiborne, who runs the Mattapan police station on Felder's block.

Since the police are cool with him, it must be some kind of mental problem or a strong anti-society sentiment that's keeping Felder on the street, right?

Felder is addicted to crack cocaine, but he doesn't like to talk about it. It would be like wearing a sign, "I'm an addict," he says, and that's not good for business.

Last week, city officials announced that Boston will spend $26 million to help cut down on violent crime in troubled areas of the city. Some of that money will go toward keeping drug dealers from turning to violence.

This is a good thing, but doesn't it kind of undercut the effort when police officers knowingly look the other way when a prominent member of their community admits to having a problem with drugs? Shouldn't they get Felder some help? Or maybe try to find out where he's getting his fix?

7 comments:

Max Fischer said...

irony is that Felder would make a great "lost grandfather" character on GOSSIP GIRL

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